Piece Of My Heart
Book 16 in the Inspector Banks series, 2006
Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the source of its marvels.
– Francisco Goya, 1799
The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
– William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” 1790-93
Monday, 8th September, 1969
To an observer looking down from the peak of Brimleigh Beacon early that Monday morning, the scene below might have resembled the aftermath of a battle. It had rained briefly during the night, and the pale sun coaxed tendrils of mist from the damp earth. They swirled over fields dotted with motionless shapes, mingling here and there with the darker smoke of smoldering embers. Human scavengers picked their way through the carnage as if collecting discarded weapons, occasionally bending to extract an object of value from a dead man’s pocket. Others appeared to be shoveling soil or quicklime into large open graves. The light wind carried a whiff of rotting flesh.
And over the whole scene a terrible stillness reigned.
But to Dave Sampson, down on the field, there had been no battle, only a peaceful gathering, and Dave had the worm’s-eye view. It was just after 8:00 a.m., and he had been up half the night along with everyone else listening to Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin. Now, the crowd had gone home, and he was moving among the motionless shapes, litter left behind by the vanished hordes, helping to clean up after the very first Brimleigh Festival. Here he was, bent over, back aching like hell, eyes burning with tiredness, plodding across the muddy field picking up rubbish. The eerie sounds of Jimmy Page playing his electric guitar with a violin bow still echoed in his mind as he shoved cellophane wrappers and half-eaten Mars bars into his plastic bag.
Ants and beetles crawled over the remains of sandwiches and half-empty tins of cold baked beans. Flies buzzed around the feces and wasps hovered about the necks of empty pop bottles. More than once, Dave had to maneuver sharply to avoid being stung. He couldn’t believe some of the stuff people left behind. Food wrappers, soggy newspapers and magazines, used Durex, tampons, cigarette ends, knickers, empty beer cans and roaches you’d expect, but what on earth had the person who left the Underwood typewriter been thinking of? Or the wooden crutch? Had a cripple, suddenly healed by the music, run off and left it behind?
There were other things, too, things best avoided. The makeshift toilets set over the open cesspit had been uninviting, as well as few and far between, and the queues had been long, encouraging more than one desperate person to find a quiet spot elsewhere in the field. Dave glanced toward the craters and felt glad that he wasn’t one of the volunteers assigned to fill them up with earth.
In an otherwise isolated spot at the southern edge of the field, where the land rose gently toward the fringes of Brimleigh Woods, Dave noticed an abandoned sleeping bag. The closer he got, the more it looked to be occupied. Had someone passed out or simply gone to sleep? More likely, Dave thought, it was drugs. All night the medical tent had been open to people suffering hallucinations from bad acid, and there had been enough Mandrax and opiated hash around to knock out an army.
Dave prodded the bag with his foot. It felt soft and heavy. He prodded it again, harder this time. Still nothing. It definitely felt as if there was someone inside. Finally, he bent and pulled the zip, and when he saw what was there, he wished he hadn’t.
Monday, 8th September, 1969
Detective Inspector Stanley Chadwick was at his desk in Brotherton House before eight o’clock Monday morning, as usual, with every intention of finishing off the paperwork that had piled up during his two weeks’ annual leave at the end of August. The caravan at Primrose Valley, with Janet and Yvonne, had made a nice haven for a while, but Yvonne was obviously restless as only a sixteen-year-old on holiday with her parents can be, and crime didn’t stop while he was away from Leeds. Nor, apparently, did the paperwork.
It had been a good weekend. Yorkshire beat Derbyshire in the Gillette Cup Final, and if Leeds United, coming off a season as league champions, hadn’t managed to beat Manchester United at home, at least they had come out of it with a 2-2 draw, and Billy Bremner had scored.
The only blot on the landscape was that Yvonne had stayed out most of the night on Sunday, and it wasn’t the first time. Chadwick had lain awake until he heard her come in at about half past six, and by then it was time for him to get up and get ready for work. Yvonne had gone straight to her room and closed her door, so he had put off the inevitable confrontation until later, and now it was gnawing at him. He didn’t know what was happening to his daughter, what she was up to, but whatever it was, it frightened him. It seemed that the younger generation had been getting stranger and stranger over the past few years, more out of control, and Chadwick felt unable to find any point of connection with them anymore. Most of them were like members of another species to him now. Especially his own daughter.
Chadwick tried to shake off his worries about Yvonne and glanced over the crime sheets: trouble with squatters in a Leeds city center office building; a big drugs bust in Chapeltown; an assault on a woman with a stone in a sock in Bradford. Manningham Lane, he noticed, and everyone knew what kind of women you found on Manningham Lane. Still, poor cow, nobody deserved to be hit with a stone in a sock. Just over the county border, in the North Riding, the Brimleigh Festival had gone off peacefully enough, with only a few arrests for drunkenness and drug dealing – only to be expected at such an event – and a bit of bother with some skinheads at one of the fences.
At about half past nine, Chadwick reached for the next file, and he had just opened it when Karen popped her head around his door and told him Detective Chief Superintendent McCullen wanted to see him. Chadwick put the folder back on the pile. If McCullen wanted to see him, it had to be something pretty big. Whatever it was, it was bound to be a lot more interesting than paperwork.
McCullen sat in his spacious office puffing on his pipe and enjoying the panoramic view. Brotherton House perched at the western edge of the city center, adjacent to the university and Leeds General Infirmary buildings, and it looked out west over the new Inner Ringroad toward Park Lane College. All the old mills and factories in the area, blackened by a century or more of soot, had been demolished over the last two or three years, and it seemed that a whole new city was rising from the ruins of its Victorian past: the International Swimming Pool, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Polytechnic, the Yorkshire Post Building. Cranes crisscrossed on the horizon and the sound of pneumatic drills filled the air. Was it just Chadwick’s imagination, or was there a building site no matter where you looked in the city these days?
He wasn’t sure that the future was better than the past it was replacing any more than he was sure the emerging world order was better than the old one. There seemed a monotonous sterility to many of the new buildings, concrete-and-glass tower blocks for the most part, along with terraces of redbrick council houses. Their Victorian predecessors, like Benjamin Gott’s Bean Ing Mills, might have looked a bit more grimy and shabby, but at least they had character. Or perhaps, Chadwick thought, he was just becoming an old fogy about architecture, the same way he was about young people. And at forty-eight, he was too young for that. He made a mental note to try to be more tolerant of hippies and architects.
“Stan, sit down,” said McCullen, gesturing to the seat opposite his desk. He was a hard, compact man, one of the old school, and fast nearing retirement. Gray hair in a severe crew cut, sharp, square features, an intimidating gleam in his narrowed eyes. People said he had no sense of humor, but Chadwick thought it was just so dark and buried so deep that nobody could recognize it, or wanted to find it. McCullen had served as a commando during the war, and Chadwick had seen more than enough active duty himself. He liked to think it created a bond between them, something in common that they never spoke about. They also shared a Scottish background. Chadwick’s mother was a Scot, and his father had worked in the Clydebank shipyards. Chadwick had grown up in Glasgow, drifting down to Yorkshire only after the war.
“I won’t beat about the bush,” McCullen began, knocking his pipe on the heavy glass ashtray, “but there’s been a body discovered at Brimleigh Glen, the big field where they held the festival this weekend. I don’t have many details yet. The report has just this minute come in. All we know is that the victim is a young woman.”
“Oh,” said Chadwick, aware of that cold sinking feeling deep in his belly. “I thought Brimleigh was the North Riding?”
McCullen refilled his pipe. “Strictly speaking, it is,” he said finally, releasing clouds of aromatic blue smoke. “Just over the border. But they’re country coppers. They don’t get many murders, just a bit of sheep-shagging now and then. They’ve certainly got no one capable of handling an investigation of this magnitude, given how many people must have been attending that festival, and they’re asking for our help. I thought, perhaps, with your recent successes…”
“The locals still won’t like it,” Chadwick said. “Perhaps it’s not as bad as having Scotland Yard tramping all over your provincial toes, but-”
“It’s already cleared,” said McCullen, turning his gaze back to the window. “There’s a local detective sergeant, name of Keith Enderby. You’ll be working with him. He’s already at the scene.” McCullen glanced at his wristwatch. “Better get out there, Stan. DC Bradley’s waiting with the car. The doc’ll be there soon wanting to get the body back to the mortuary for the postmortem.”
Chadwick knew when he was being dismissed. Solve two murders so far this year and you get lumbered with a case like this. Bloody hippies. Paperwork suddenly didn’t look so bad, after all. Tolerance, he told himself. He stood up and headed for the door.
Monday, 8th September, 1969
There was no easy access to the body in the field, not without getting his shoes muddy. Chadwick cursed under his breath as he saw his lovingly polished black brogues and the bottoms of his suit trousers daubed with brown mud. If he’d been a rural copper, he’d have kept a pair of wellies in the boot of his car, but you don’t expect mud when you’re used to working the streets of Leeds. If anything, DC Bradley complained even more.
Brimleigh Glen looked like a vast tip. A natural amphitheater cupped between low hills to the east and north and Brimleigh Woods to the west and south, it was a popular spot for picnics and brass band concerts in summer. Not this weekend, though. A stage had been erected at the western end of the field, abutting the woods, and the audience had sprawled as far back as the hillsides on the eastern and northern sides, to a distance where, Chadwick guessed, nobody would have been able to see very much at all except little dots.
The small knot of people surrounding the body stood at the southern edge of the field, about a hundred yards back from the stage, near the edge of the woods. When Chadwick and Bradley arrived, a man with long greasy hair, bell-bottom jeans and an Afghan waistcoat turned and said with far more aggression than Chadwick would have expected of someone who was supposed to embrace peace and love, “Who the fuck are you?”
Chadwick feigned a surprised expression and looked around, then he pointed his thumb at his own chest. “Who, me?”
A clearly embarrassed young man hurried over to them. “Er… I think that’s probably the detective inspector from Leeds. Am I right, sir?”
“How d’you do, sir? I’m Detective Sergeant Enderby, North Yorkshire Constabulary. This is Rick Hayes, the festival promoter.”
“You must have been up all night,” said Chadwick. “I’d have thought you’d be long tucked up in bed by now.”
“There’s still a lot to see to,” Hayes said, gesturing behind him. “That scaffolding, for a start. It’s rented and it all has to be accounted for. I’m sorry, by the way.” He glanced in the direction of the sleeping bag. “This has all been very upsetting.”
“I’m sure,” said Chadwick, making his way forward. There were four people besides himself and DC Bradley at the scene, only one of them a uniformed policeman, and most of them were standing far too close to the body. They were also very casually dressed. Even DS Enderby’s hair, Chadwick noticed, was dangerously close to touching the collar of his jacket, and his sideboards needed trimming. His black winkle-pickers looked as if they had been dirty even before he crossed the field. “Were you the first officer to arrive at the scene?” Chadwick asked the young police constable, trying to move people back and clear a little space around the sleeping bag.
“Yes, sir. PC Jacobs. I was on patrol when the call came in.”
“Who called it in?”
One of the others stepped forward. “I did. Steve Naylor. I was working on the scaffolding when Dave here shouted me over. There’s a phone box on the road on the other side of the hill.”
“Did you find the body?” Chadwick asked Dave Sampson.
Sampson looked pale, as well he might, Chadwick thought. His own war service and eighteen years on the force had hardened him to the sight of violent death, but he hadn’t forgotten his first time, and he never forgot how devastating it could appear to someone who had never witnessed it before. He looked around. “Any chance someone might rustle up a pot of tea?”
Everyone stared at him, dumbfounded, then Naylor, the stage worker, said, “We’ve got a Primus and a billycan back there. I’ll see what I can do.”
Naylor headed for the stage.
Chadwick turned back to Sampson. “Touch anything?” he asked.
“Only the zip. I mean, I didn’t know… I thought…”
“What did you think?”
“It felt like there was someone inside. I thought they might be asleep or…”
“After you opened the zip and saw what it was, what did you do then?”
“I called over to the stage.”
Chadwick looked at the speckled mess on the grass about a yard away. “Before or after you were sick?”
Sampson swallowed. “After.”
“Did you touch the body at all?”
“Good. Now go over and give your statement to Detective Sergeant Enderby. We’ll probably want to talk to you again, so stick around.”
Chadwick crouched by the blue sleeping bag, keeping his hands in his pockets so that he didn’t touch anything, even by accident. Only the upper half of the girl’s body was exposed, but it was enough. She was wearing a smocked white dress with a scooped neck, and the area under the left breast was a mess – knife work, by the looks of it. Also, her dress was bunched up around her waist, as if she hadn’t had time to smooth it down when she got into the bag – or as if someone had shoved her in quickly after he’d killed her. The long dress could also have been raised for sexual purposes, if she had been sharing the sleeping bag with her boyfriend, Chadwick realized, but he would have to wait for the pathologist to find out any more about that.
She was a very pretty girl, with long blond hair, an oval face and full lips. She looked so innocent. Not unlike Yvonne, he thought, with a sudden shudder, and Yvonne had been out all last night, too. But she had come home. Not this girl. She was perhaps a year or two older than Yvonne, and her eye shadow emphasized the color of her big blue eyes. The mascara stood out in stark contrast to the paleness of her skin. She wore several strings of cheap colored beads around her neck, and she had a cornflower painted on her right cheek.
There was nothing more Chadwick could do until the Home Office pathologist arrived, which should be very soon, McCullen had given him to understand. Standing, he scanned the ground nearby but saw only rubbish: KitKat wrappers, a soggy International Times, an empty pouch of Old Holborn rolling tobacco, an orange pack of Rizla cigarette papers. It would all have to be bagged and checked out, of course. He sniffed the air – moist but warm enough for the time of year – and glanced at his watch. Half past eleven. It looked like being another fine day, and a long one.
He turned his gaze back to the others. “Anybody recognize her?”
They all shook their heads. Chadwick thought he noticed a little hesitation in Rick Hayes’s reaction.
“No,” said Hayes. “Never seen her before.”
Chadwick thought he was lying about not recognizing the girl, but it would keep. He noticed a movement by the stage and looked to see Naylor coming back with a tray and, following shortly behind him, a nattily dressed man who seemed to be about as happy to find himself walking across a muddy field as Chadwick had been. But this man was carrying a black bag. The pathologist had arrived at last.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks hit the play button, and after the heartbeats, the glorious sound of “Breathe” from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon filled the room. He still hadn’t got the hang of the new equipment yet, but he was finding his way around it slowly. He had inherited a state-of-the-art sound system along with a DVD player, 42-inch plasma TV, 40G iPod and a Porsche 911 from his brother Roy. The estate had gone to Banks’s parents, but they were set in their ways and had no use for a Porsche or a large-screen TV. The first wouldn’t last five minutes parked outside their Peterborough council house, and the second wouldn’t fit in their living room. They had sold Roy’s London house, setting them both up nicely for the rest of their lives, and passed on the things they couldn’t use to Banks.
As for Roy’s iPod, Banks’s father had taken one look at it and been about to drop it in the waste bin before Banks rescued it. Now it had become as essential to him, when he went out, as his wallet and his mobile. He had been able to download the software and buy new chargers and cables, along with an adapter that allowed him to play it through his car radio, and while he had kept a great deal of his brother’s music library on it, he had managed to clear a good fifteen hours’ worth of space by deleting the complete Ring cycle, and that was far more than enough to accommodate his meager collection at the moment.
Banks headed into the kitchen to see how dinner was getting along. All he’d had to do was remove the packaging and put the foil tray in the oven, but he didn’t want to burn it. It was Friday evening, and Annie Cabbot was coming over for dinner tonight – just as a friend – and the evening was to be a sort of unofficial housewarming, though that was a term Banks hesitated to use these days. He had been back in the restored cottage for less than a month, and tonight would be Annie’s first visit.
It was a wild October night outside. Banks could hear the wind screaming and moaning and see the dark shadows of tree branches tossing and thrashing beyond the kitchen window. He hoped Annie would make the drive all right, that there were no trees down. There was a spare bed if she wanted to stay, but he doubted that she would. Too much history for that to be comfortable for either of them, although there had been moments over the summer when he had thought it wouldn’t take much to brush all the objections aside. Best not think about that, he told himself.
Banks poured himself the last of the Amarone. His parents had inherited Roy’s wine cellar, and they had passed this on to him, too. As far as Arthur Banks was concerned, white wine was for sissies and red wine tasted like vinegar. His mother preferred sweet sherry. Their loss was Banks’s gain, and while it lasted, he got to enjoy the high life of first-growth Bordeaux and Sauternes, white and red Burgundy from major growers, Chianti Classico, Barolo and Amarone. When it was gone, of course, he would be back to boxes of Simply Chilean and Big Aussie Red, but for the moment he was enjoying himself.
Whenever he opened a bottle, though, he missed Roy, which was strange because they had never been close, and Banks felt he had only got to know his brother after his death. He would just have to learn to live with it. It was the same with the other things – the TV, stereo, car, music – they all made him think of the brother he had never really known.
Part of the way through “Us and Them” he heard the doorbell ring. Annie, half past seven, right on time. He walked through and opened the front door, flinching at the gust of wind that almost blew her into his arms. She edged back, giggling, trying to hold down her hair as Banks pushed the door shut, but even in the short trip from her car to his front door it had become a tangled mess.
“Quite the night out there,” Banks said. “I hope you didn’t have any problems getting here.”
Annie smiled. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.” She handed Banks a bottle of wine – Tesco’s Chilean Merlot, he noticed – and took out a hairbrush. As she attacked her hair, she wandered around the front room. “This is certainly different from what I expected,” she said. “It looks really cozy. I see you did go for the dark wood, after all.”
The wood for the desk had been one of the things they had talked about, and Annie had advised the darker color, as opposed to light pine. What had been Banks’s main living room was now a small study complete with bookcases, a reproduction Georgian writing table for the laptop computer under the window, and a couple of comfortable brown leather armchairs arranged around the fire, perfect for reading. A door by the side of the fireplace led into the new entertainment room, which ran the length of the house. Annie walked up and down and admired it, though she did tell Banks she thought it was a bit of a bloke’s den.
The TV hung on the wall at the front and the speakers were spread about in strategic positions around the deep plum sofa and armchairs. Storage racks on the side walls held CDs and DVDs, mostly Roy’s, apart from the few Banks had bought over the past couple of months. At the back, French windows led to the new conservatory.
They wandered into the kitchen, which had been completely remodeled. Banks had tried to make sure it was as close to the original as possible, with the pine cupboards, copper-bottomed pans on wall hooks and the breakfast nook, where bench and table matched the cupboards, but that strange benign presence he had felt there before had gone for good, or so it seemed. Now it was a fine kitchen, but only a kitchen. The builders had run the conservatory along the entire back of the house, and there was also a door leading to it from the kitchen.
“Impressive,” Annie said. “All this and a Porsche parked outside, too. You’ll be pulling the birds like nobody’s business.”
“Some hope,” said Banks. “I might even sell the Porsche.”
“It just feels so strange, having all Roy’s stuff. I mean, the TV and the movies and CDs are okay, I suppose, not quite as personal, but the car… I don’t know. Roy loved that car.”
“Give it a chance. You might get to love it, too.”
“I like it well enough. It’s just… oh, never mind.”
“Mmm, it smells good in here. What’s for dinner?”
“Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.”
Annie gave him a look.
“Vegetarian lasagna,” he said. “Marks and Spencer’s best.”
“That’ll do fine.”
Banks threw a simple salad together with an oil-and-vinegar dressing while Annie sat on the bench and opened the wine. Pink Floyd finished, so he went and put some Mozart wind quintets on the stereo. He’d had speakers wired into the kitchen, and the sound was good. When everything was ready, they sat opposite one another and Banks served the food. Annie was looking good, he thought. Her flowing chestnut hair still fell about her shoulders in disarray, but that only heightened her attraction for him. As for the rest, she was dressed in her usual casual style – just a touch of makeup, lightweight linen jacket, a green T-shirt and close-fitting black jeans, bead necklace, and several thin silver bracelets which jingled when she moved her hand.
They had hardly got beyond the first mouthful when Banks’s telephone rang. He muttered an apology to Annie and went to answer it.
It was DC Winsome Jackman. “Yes, Winsome,” Banks said. “This had better be important. I’ve been slaving over a hot oven all day.”
“Never mind. Go on.”
“There’s been a murder, sir.”
“Are you certain?”
“I wouldn’t be disturbing you if I wasn’t, sir,” Winsome said. “I’m at the scene right now. Moorview Cottage in Fordham, just outside Lyndgarth. I’m standing about six feet away from him, and the back of his head’s caved in. Looks like someone bashed him with the poker. Kev’s here, too, and he agrees. Sorry, Detective Sergeant Templeton. The local bobby called it in.”
Banks knew Fordham. It was nothing but a hamlet, really, a cluster of cottages, a pub and a church. “Christ,” he said. “Okay, Winsome, I’ll get there as soon as I can. In the meantime, you can call in the SOCOs and Dr. Glendenning, if he’s available.”
“Right you are, sir. Should I ring DI Cabbot?”
“I’ll deal with that. Keep the scene clear. We’ll be there. Half an hour at the most.”
Banks hung up and went back into the kitchen. “Sorry to spoil your dinner, Annie, but we’ve got to go out. Suspicious death. Winsome’s certain it’s murder.”
“Your car or mine?”
“Yours, I think. The Porsche is a bit pretentious for a crime scene, don’t you think?”
Monday, 8th September, 1969
As the day progressed, the scene around Brimleigh Glen became busy with the arrival of various medical and scientific experts and the incident van, a temporary operational headquarters with telephone communications and, more important, tea-making facilities. The immediate crime scene was taped off and a constable posted at the entrance to log the names of those who came and went. All work on rubbish disposal, stage dismantling and cesspit filling was suspended until further notice, much to the chagrin of Rick Hayes, who complained that every minute more spent at the field was costing him money.
Chadwick hadn’t forgotten Hayes’s possible lie earlier about not recognizing the victim, and he looked forward to the pleasure of a more in-depth interview. In fact, Hayes was high on his list of priorities. For the moment, though, it was important to get the investigation organized, get the mechanics in place and the right men appointed to the right jobs.
Detective Sergeant Enderby seemed capable enough on first impression, despite the length of his hair, and Chadwick already knew that Simon Bradley, his driver, was a bright young copper with a good future ahead of him. He also demonstrated the same sort of military neatness and precision in his demeanor that Chadwick appreciated. As for the rest of the team, they would come mostly from the North Riding, people he didn’t know, and he would have to learn their strengths and weaknesses on the hoof. He preferred to enter into an investigation on more certain ground, but it couldn’t be helped. Officially, this was North Yorkshire’s case, and he was simply helping out.
The doctor had pronounced the victim dead and turned the body over to the coroner’s officer, in this case a local constable specially appointed to the task, who arranged for its transportation to the mortuary in Leeds. During his brief examination at the scene, Dr. O’Neill had been able to tell Chadwick only that the wounds almost certainly had been caused by a thin bladed knife and that she had been dead less than ten hours and more than six before the time of his examination, which meant she had been killed sometime between half past one and half past five in the morning. Her body had been moved after death, he added, and she had not been in the sleeping bag when she died. Though stab wounds, even to the heart, often don’t bleed a great deal, the doctor said, he would have expected more blood on the inside of the sleeping bag had she been stabbed there.
How long she had lain elsewhere before she had been moved, or where she had lain, he couldn’t say, only that the postmortem lividity indicated that she had been on her back for some hours. From an external examination, it didn’t look as if she had been raped – she was still, in fact, wearing her white cotton knickers, and they looked clean – but only a complete postmortem would reveal details of any sexual activity prior to death. There were no defensive wounds on her hands, which most likely meant that she had been taken by surprise, and that the first stab had pierced her heart and incapacitated her immediately. There was light bruising on the front left side of her neck, which Dr. O’Neill said could be an indication that someone, the killer probably, had restrained her from behind.
So, Chadwick thought, the killer had made a clumsy attempt to make it look as if the girl had been killed in the bag on the field, and clumsy attempts to mislead often yield clues. Before doing anything else, Chadwick commissioned Enderby to get a team with a police dog together to comb Brimleigh Woods.
The photographer did his stuff and the specialists searched the scene, then bagged everything for scientific analysis. They got some partial footprints, but there was no guarantee that any of these were the killer’s. Even so, they patiently made plaster-of-Paris casts. There was no weapon in the immediate vicinity, hardly surprising as the victim hadn’t died there, nor was there anything in the sleeping bag or near her body to indicate who she was. Lack of drag marks indicated that she might have been moved there before it rained. The beads she wore were common enough, although Chadwick imagined it might be possible to track down a supplier.
Some poor mother and father would no doubt be wringing their hands with worry about now, as he had been wringing his about Yvonne. Had she been at the festival? he wondered. It would be just like her – the kind of music she listened to, her rebellious spirit, the clothes she wore. He remembered the fuss she had made when he and Janet wouldn’t let her go to the Isle of Wight Festival the weekend before. The Isle of Wight, for crying out loud. It was three hundred miles away. Anything could happen. What on earth had she been thinking about?
For the time being, the best course of action was to check all missing persons reports for someone matching the victim’s description. Failing any luck there, they would have to get a decent enough photograph of her to put in the papers and show on television, along with a plea for information from anyone in the crowd who might have seen or heard anything. However they did it, they needed to know who she was as soon as possible. Only then could they attempt to fathom out who had done this to her, and why.
The darkness deepened the closer Banks and Annie got to Lyndgarth. It looked as if the wind had taken down an electricity cable somewhere and caused a power cut. The silhouettes of branches jerked in the beam of the car’s headlights, while all around was darkness, not even the light of a distant farmhouse to guide them. In Lyndgarth, houses, pubs, church and village green were all in the dark. Annie drove slowly as the road curved out of town, over the narrow stone bridge and around the bend another half a mile or so to Fordham. Even in the surrounding darkness it was easy to see where all the fuss was as they came over the second bridge shortly after half past eight.
The main road veered sharp left at the pub, opposite the church, toward Eastvale, but straight ahead, on a rough track that continued up the hill past the youth hostel and over the wild moorland, a police patrol car blocked the way, along with Winsome’s unmarked Vectra. Annie pulled up behind the cars, and wind whipped at her clothes as she got out of the car. The trouble was in the last cottage on the left. Opposite Moorview Cottage, a narrow lane ran west between the side of the church and a row of cottages until it was swallowed up in the dark countryside.
“Not much of a place, is it?” said Banks.
“Depends on what you want,” said Annie. “It’s quiet enough, I suppose.”
“And there is a pub.” Looking back across the main road, Banks fancied he could see the glow of candlelight through the windows and hear the muffled tones of conversation from inside. A little thing like a power cut clearly wasn’t going to deprive the locals of their hand-pumped ale.
The light of a torch dazzled them, and Banks heard Winsome’s voice. “Sir? DI Cabbot? This way. I took the liberty of asking the SOCOs to bring some lighting with them, but for the moment this is all we’ve got.”
They followed the trail the torch lit up through a high wooden gate and a conservatory. The local PC was waiting inside the door, talking to newly promoted Detective Sergeant Kevin Templeton, and the light from his torch improved visibility quite a bit. Even so, they were limited to what they could see within the beams; the rest of the place was shrouded in darkness.
Treading carefully across the stone flags, Banks and Annie followed the lights to the edge of the living room. They weren’t wearing protective clothing, so they had to keep their distance until the experts had finished. There, sprawled on the floor near the fireplace, lay the body of a man. He was lying on his face, so Banks couldn’t tell how old he was, but his clothing – jeans and a dark green sweatshirt – suggested he was youngish. And Winsome was right; there was no doubt about this one. He could see even from a few feet away that the back of his head was a bloody mess and a long trail of dark coagulating blood gleamed in the torchlight, ending in a puddle that was soaking into the rug. Winsome moved her torch beam around and Banks could see a poker lying on the floor not far from the victim, and a pair of glasses with one lens broken.
“Do you notice any signs of a struggle?” Banks asked.
“No,” said Annie.
The beam picked out a packet of Dunhills and a cheap disposable lighter on the table beside the armchair, toward which the victim’s head was pointing. “Say he was going for his cigarettes,” Banks said.
“And someone took him by surprise?”
“Yes. But someone he had no reason to think would kill him.” Banks pointed to the rack by the fireplace. “The poker would most likely have been there on the hearth with the other implements.”
“Blood-spatter analysis should give us a better idea of how it happened,” Annie said.
Banks nodded and turned to Winsome. “First thing we do is seal off this room completely,” he said. “It’s out of bounds to anyone who doesn’t need to be in it.”
“Right, sir,” said Winsome.
“And organize a house-to-house as soon as possible. Ask for reinforcements, if necessary.”
“Do we know who he is?”
“We don’t know anything yet,” Winsome said. “PC Travers here lives down the road and tells me he doesn’t know him. Apparently it’s a holiday cottage.”
“Then presumably there’s an owner somewhere.”
“She’s in here, sir.” It was the PC who spoke, and he pointed his torch into the dining room, where a woman sat in the dark on a hard-back chair staring into space. “I didn’t know what else to do with her, sir,” he went on. “I mean, I couldn’t let her go until she’d spoken with you, and she needed to sit down. She was feeling a bit faint.”
“You did the right thing,” said Banks.
“Anyway, it’s Mrs. Tanner. She’s the owner.”
“No, I’m not,” said Mrs. Tanner. “I just look after it for them. They live in London.”
“Okay,” said Banks, sitting down opposite her. “We’ll get those details later.”
PC Travers shone his torch along the table between them, so that neither was dazzled and each could at least see the other. From what Banks could tell, she was a stout woman in her early fifties with short graying hair and a double chin.
“Are you all right, Mrs. Tanner?” he asked.
She put a hand to her breast. “I’m better now, thank you. It was just a shock. In the dark and all… It’s not that I’ve never seen a dead body before. Just family, like, you know, but this…” She took a sip from the steaming mug in front of her. It looked as if Travers had had the good sense to make some tea, which meant there must be a gas cooker.
“Are you up to answering a few questions?” Banks asked her.
“I don’t know that I can tell you anything.”
“Leave that to me to decide. How did you come to find the body?”
“He was just lying there, like he is now. I didn’t touch anything.”
“Good. But what I meant was: Why did you come here?”
“It was the power cut. I live just down the road, see, the other side of the pub, and I wanted to show him where the emergency candles were. There’s a big torch, too.”
“What time was this?”
“Just before eight o’clock.”
“Did you see or hear anything unusual?”
“Not a soul.”
“Was the door open?”
“No. It was shut.”
“So what did you do?”
“First, I knocked.”
“Well, there was no answer, see, and it was all dark inside.”
“Didn’t you think he might be out?”
“His car’s still here. Who’d go out walking on a night like this?”
“What about the pub?”
“I looked in, but he wasn’t there, and nobody had seen him, so I came back here. I’ve got the keys. I thought maybe he’d had an accident or something, fallen down the stairs in the dark, and all because I’d forgotten to show him where the candles and the torch were.”
“Where are they?” Banks asked.
“In a box on the shelf under the stairs.” She shook her head slowly. “Sorry. As soon as I saw him just… lying there… it went out of my head completely, why I’d come.”
“That’s all right.”
Banks sent PC Travers to find the candles. He came back a few moments later. “There were matches in the kitchen by the cooker, sir,” he said, and proceeded to set candles in saucers and place them on the dining table.
“That’s better,” said Banks. He turned back to Mrs. Tanner. “Do you know who your guest was? His name?”
“When he came by when he arrived last Saturday and introduced himself, he just said his name was Nick.”
“He didn’t give you a check with his full name on it?”
“He paid cash.”
“Is that normal?”
“Some people prefer it that way.”
“How long was he staying?”
“He paid for two weeks.”
Two weeks in the Yorkshire Dales in late October seemed like an odd holiday choice to Banks, but there was no accounting for taste. Maybe this Nick was a keen rambler. “How did he find the place?”
“The owners have a web site, but don’t ask me owt about that. I only see to the cleaning and general maintenance.”
“I understand,” said Banks. “Any idea where Nick came from?”
“No. He didn’t have any sort of foreign accent, but he wasn’t from around here. Down south, I’d say.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me about him?”
“I only ever saw him the once,” Mrs. Tanner said. “He seemed like a nice enough lad.”
“How old would you say he was?”
“Not old. Mid-thirties, maybe. I’m not very good at ages.”
Car headlights shone through the window and soon the small house was filled with SOCOs. Peter Darby, the photographer, and Dr. Glendenning, the Home Office pathologist, arrived at about the same time, Glendenning complaining that Banks thought he had nothing better to do than hang around dead bodies on a Friday evening. Banks asked PC Travers to take Mrs. Tanner home and stay with her. Her husband was out at a darts match in Eastvale, she said, but he would soon be back, and she assured Banks she would be fine on her own. The SOCOs quickly set up lights in the living room, and while Peter Darby photographed the cottage with his Pentax and digital camcorder, Banks watched Dr. Glendenning examine the body, turning it slightly to examine the eyes.
“Anything you can tell us, Doc?” Banks asked after a few minutes.
Dr. Glendenning got to his feet and sighed theatrically. “I’ve told you about that before, Banks. Don’t call me ‘Doc.’ It’s disrespectful.”
“Sorry,” said Banks. He peered at the corpse. “Anyway, he spoiled my Friday evening, too, so anything you can tell me would help.”
“Well, for a start, he’s dead. You can write that down in your little notebook.”
“I suspected as much,” said Banks.
“And don’t be so bloody sarcastic. You realize I was supposed to be at the Lord Mayor’s banquet by now drinking Country Manor and munching vol-au-vent?”
“Sounds bad for your health,” Banks said. “You’re better off here.”
Glendenning favored him with a sly smile. “Maybe you’re right at that, laddie.” He smoothed down his silvery hair. “Anyway, it was almost certainly the blow to the back of the head that killed him. I’ll know better when I get him on the table, of course, but that’ll have to do for now.”
“Time of death?”
“Not more than two or three hours. Rigor hasn’t started yet.”
Banks looked at his watch. Five past nine. Mrs. Tanner had probably been there about an hour or so, which narrowed it down even more, between six and eight, say. She couldn’t have missed the killer by long, which made her a very lucky woman. “Any chance he got drunk, fell and hit his head?” Banks knew it was unlikely, but he had to ask. You didn’t go off wasting valuable police time and resources on a domestic accident.
“Almost certainly not,” said Glendenning, glancing over at the poker. “For a start, if it had happened that way, he would most likely be lying on his back, and secondly, judging by the shape of the wound and the blood and hair on that poker over there, I’d say your murder weapon’s pretty obvious this time. Maybe you’ll find a nice clean set of fingerprints and be home by bedtime.”
“Some hope,” said Banks, seeing yet another weekend slip away. Why couldn’t murderers commit their crimes on Mondays? It wasn’t only the prospect of working all weekend that made Friday murders such a pain in the arse, but that people tended to make themselves scarce. Offices closed, workers visited relatives, everything slowed down. And the first forty-eight hours were crucial in any investigation. “Anyway,” he said, “the poker was close to hand, which probably means that whoever did it didn’t come prepared to kill. Or wanted to make it look that way.”
“I’ll leave the speculation to you. As far as I’m concerned, he belongs to the coroner now. You can remove the body whenever Cartier-Bresson here has finished.”
Banks smiled. He noticed Peter Darby stick his tongue out at Glendenning behind the doctor’s back. They always seemed to be getting in one another’s way at crime scenes, which were the only places they ever met.
By now it was impossible to ignore the activity in the rest of the house, which was swarming with SOCOs. Thick cables snaked through the conservatory, attached to bright lights which cast shadows of men in protective clothing on the walls. The place resembled a film set. Feeling very much in the way, Banks edged out toward the conservatory. The wind was still raging, and at times it felt strong enough to blow away the whole frail structure. It didn’t help that they had to leave the door open to let the cables in.
Detective Sergeant Stefan Nowak, the crime scene coordinator, arrived next, and after a brief hello to Banks and Annie he set to work. It was his job to liaise between the scientists and the detectives, if necessary translating the jargon into comprehensible English, and he did it very well. His degrees in physics and chemistry certainly helped.
There are people who will stand for hours watching others work, Banks had noticed. You see them at building sites, eyes against the knotholes in the high wooden fences as the mechanical diggers claw at the earth and men in hard hats yell orders over the din. Or standing in the street looking up as someone on scaffolding sandblasts the front of an old building. Banks wasn’t one of them. That kind of thing was a perverse form of voyeurism as far as he was concerned. Besides, there was nothing much more he could do at the house now until the team had finished, and his thoughts moved pleasantly to the candlelit pub not more than thirty yards away. The people in there would have to be interviewed. Someone might have seen or heard something. One of them might even have done it. Best talk to them now, while they were still in there and their memories were fresh. He told Winsome and Templeton to stay with Stefan and the SOCOs and to come and get him if anything important came up, then he called out to Annie, and they headed for the gate.
Monday, 8th September, 1969
When Chadwick was satisfied that things were running smoothly, he called Rick Hayes over and suggested they talk in the van. It was set up so that one end was a self-contained cubicle, just about big enough for an interview, though at six foot two, Chadwick felt more than a little claustrophobic. Still, he could put up with it, and a bit of discomfort never did any harm when someone had something to hide.
Close up, Hayes looked older than Chadwick would have expected. Perhaps it was the stress of the weekend, but he had lines around his eyes and his jaw was tense. Chadwick put him in his late thirties, but with the hairstyle and the clothes, he could probably pass for ten years younger. He had about three or four days’ stubble on his face, his fingernails were bitten down to the quick, and the first two fingers of his left hand were stained yellow with nicotine.
“Mr. Hayes,” Chadwick began. “Maybe you can help me. I need some background here. How many people attended the festival?”
“About twenty-five thousand.”
“Quite a lot.”
“Not really. There were a hundred and fifty thousand at the Isle of Wight the weekend before. Mind you, they had Dylan and the Who. And we had competition. Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jefferson Airplane were playing in Hyde Park on Saturday.”
“And you had?”
“Biggest draws? Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin.”
Chadwick, who had never heard of either, dutifully made a note of the names after checking the spelling with Hayes. “Who else?”
“A couple of local groups. Jan Dukes de Grey. The Mad Hatters. The Hatters especially have been getting really big these past few months. Their first LP is already in the charts.”
“What do you mean, local?” Chadwick asked, making a note of the names.
“Leeds. General area, at any rate.”
“How many groups in all?”
“Thirty. I can give you a full list, if you like.”
“Much appreciated.” Chadwick wasn’t sure where that information would get him, but every little bit helped. “Something like that must require a lot of organization.”
“You’re telling me. Not only do you have to book the groups well in advance and arrange for concessions, parking, camping and toilet facilities, you’ve also got to supply generators, transport and a fair bit of sound equipment. Then there’s security.”
“Who did you use?”
“My own people.”
“You’ve done this sort of thing before?”
“On a smaller scale. It’s what I do. I’m a promoter.”
Chadwick scribbled something on his pad, shielding it from Hayes in the curve of his hand. Not that it meant anything; he just wanted Hayes to think it did. Hayes lit a cigarette. Chadwick opened the window. “The festival lasted three days, is that correct?”
“Yes. We started late Friday afternoon and wrapped up today in the wee hours.”
“Led Zeppelin played last. They came on shortly after one o’clock this morning, and they must have finished about three. We were supposed to wind up earlier, but there were the inevitable delays – equipment malfunctions, that sort of thing.”
“What happened at three?”
“People started drifting home.”
“In the middle of the night?”
“There was nothing to keep them here. The ones who had pitched tents probably went back to the campground to grab a few hours’ sleep, but the rest left. The field was pretty much empty for the cleanup crew to start by dawn. The rain helped.”
“What time did it start to rain?”
“Must have been about half two in the morning. Just a brief shower, like.”
“So it was mostly dry while this Led Zeppelin was playing?”
Yvonne had arrived home at six-thirty, Chadwick thought, which gave her more than enough time to get back from Brimleigh, if she had been there. What had she been doing between three and six-thirty? Chadwick decided he had better leave that well alone until he had established whether she had been there or not.
Given a time of death between one-thirty and five-thirty, the victim might have been killed while the band was playing, or while everyone was heading home. Most likely the former, he decided, as there would have been less chance of witnesses. And possibly before the rain, as there was no obvious trail. “Are there any other gates,” he asked, “in addition to where I came in?”
“No. Only to the north. But there are plenty of exits.”
“I assume there’s fencing all around the site?”
“Yes. It wasn’t a free concert, you know.”
“But no one would have had any real reason to go through the woods?”
“No. There are no exits on that side. It doesn’t lead anywhere. The parking, camping and gates are all on the north side, and that’s where the nearest road is, too.”
“I understand you had a bit of trouble with skinheads?”
“Nothing my men couldn’t handle. A gang of them tried to break through the fence and we saw them off.”
“North or south?”
“When was this?”
“Did they come back?”
“Not as far as I know. If they did, they were quiet about it.”
“Did people actually sleep in the field over the weekend?”
“Some did. Like I said, we had a couple of fields for parking and camping just over the hill there. A lot of people pitched tents and came back and forth. Others just brought sleeping bags. Look, why does all this matter? I’d have thought it was obvious what happened.”
Chadwick raised his eyebrows. “Oh? I must be missing something. Tell me.”
“Well, she must have got into an argument with her boyfriend or something, and he killed her. She was a bit away from the crowds, there by the edge of the woods, and if everyone was listening to Led Zeppelin, they probably wouldn’t notice if the world ended.”
“Loud, are they, this Led Zeppelin?”
“You could say that. You should have a listen.”
“Maybe I will. Anyway, it’s a good point you’ve raised. I’m sure the music might have helped the killer. But why assume it was her boyfriend? Do boyfriends usually stab their girlfriends?”
“I don’t know. It’s just… I mean… who else?”
“Could have been a homicidal maniac, perhaps?”
“You’d know more about that than I do.”
“Or a passing tramp?”
“Now you’re taking the piss.”
“I assure you, Mr. Hayes, I am taking this very seriously indeed. But in order to find out who might have done this, boyfriend or whatever, we need to know who she is.” He made a note, then looked directly at Hayes. “Maybe you can help me there?”
“I’ve never seen her before in my life.”
“Oh, come off it, laddie.” Chadwick stared at him.
“I don’t know who she is.”
“Ah, but you did see her somewhere?”
Hayes looked down at his clasped hands. “Maybe.”
“And where, perhaps, might you have seen her?”
“She may have been backstage at some point.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere. How does a person get to go backstage?”
“Well, usually, you need a pass.”
“And who hands those out?”
Hayes wriggled in his chair. “Well, you know, sometimes… a good-looking girl. What can I say?”
“How many people were backstage?”
“Dozens. It was chaos back there. We had a VIP area roped off with a beer tent and lounges, then there were the performers’ caravans, dressing rooms, toilets. We also had a press enclosure in front of the stage. Some of the performers hung around to listen to other bands, you know, then maybe they’d jam backstage and… you know…”
“Who were the last groups to play on Sunday?”
“We kicked off the evening session with the Mad Hatters just after dark, then Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.”
“Were they all backstage?”
“At one time or another, if they weren’t onstage, yes.”
“There were a lot of people.”
“I don’t know… maybe fifty or so. More. That’s including roadies, managers, publicists, disc jockeys, record company people, agents, friends of the bands, hangers-on and what have you.”
“Did you keep guest lists?”
“You must be joking.”
“Lists of those who were given passes?”
“Anyone keep track of comings and goings?”
“Someone checked passes at the entrance to the backstage area. That’s all.”
“And let in beautiful girls without passes?”
“Only if they were with someone who did have a pass.”
“Ah, I see. So our victim might not have been issued a pass for herself. In addition to beer, were there any other substances contributing to that general sense of well-being backstage?”
“I wouldn’t know about that. I was too busy. Most of the time I was running around like a blue-arsed fly making sure everything was running smoothly, keeping everyone happy.”
“For the most part. You got the occasional pillock complaining his caravan was too small, but on the whole it was okay.”
Chadwick jotted something down. He could tell that Hayes was craning his neck trying to read it, so he rested his hand over the words when he had finished. “Perhaps if we were to narrow down the time of death, do you think you’d be able to give us a better idea of who might have been backstage?”
“Maybe. I dunno. Like I said, it was a bit of a zoo back there.”
“I can imagine. Did you see her with anyone in particular?”
“No. It might have been her or it might not have. I only got a fleeting glance. There were a lot of people. A lot of good-looking birds.” His expression brightened. “Maybe it wasn’t even her.”
“Let’s remain optimistic, shall we, and assume that it was? Did the girl you saw have a flower painted on her right cheek?”
“I don’t know. Like I said, I’m not even sure it was her. Lots of girls had painted flowers.”
“Perhaps your security team might be able to help us?”
“Maybe. If they remember.”
“Was the press around?”
“On and off.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a matter of give and take, isn’t it? I mean, the publicity’s always useful and you don’t want to piss off the press, but at the same time you don’t want someone filming your every move or writing about you every time you go to the toilet, do you? We tried to strike a balance.”
“How did that work?”
“A big press conference before the event, scheduled interviews with specific artists at specific times.”
“In the press enclosure.”
“So the press weren’t allowed backstage?”
“You must be joking.”
“Only in the press enclosure.”
“Can you give me their names?”
“I can’t remember them all. You can ask Mick Lawton. He was press liaison officer for the event. I’ll give you his number.”
“What about television?”
“They were here on Saturday and Sunday.”
“Let me guess – press enclosure?”
“For the most part, they filmed crowd scenes and the bands performing, within strict copyright guidelines, with permission and everything.”
“I’ll need the names of television companies involved.”
“Sure. The usual suspects.” Hayes named them. It wasn’t as if there were that many to choose from, and Yorkshire Television and BBC North would have been Chadwick’s first guesses anyway. Chadwick stood up, stooping so he didn’t bang his head on the ceiling. “We’ll have a chat with them later, see if we can have a look at their footage. And we’ll be talking with your security people, too. Thanks for your time.”
Hayes shuffled to his feet, looking surprised. “That’s it?”
Chadwick smiled. “For now.”
It was like a scene out of Dickens painted with Rembrandt’s sense of light and shade. There were two distinct groups in the low-beamed lounge, one playing cards, the other in the midst of an animated conversation: gnarled, weather-beaten faces with lined cheeks and potato noses lit by candles and the wood fire that crackled in the hearth. The two people behind the bar were younger. One was a local girl Banks was sure he had seen before, a pale willowy blonde of nineteen or twenty. The other was a young man about ten years older, with curly hair and a wispy goatee.
Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked toward the door when Banks and Annie walked in, then the cardplayers resumed their game and the other group muttered quietly.
“Nasty night out there,” said the young man behind the bar. “What can I get for you?”
“I’ll have a pint of Black Sheep,” said Banks, showing his warrant card, “and DI Cabbot here will have a Slimline bitter lemon, no ice.”
Annie raised an eyebrow at Banks but accepted the drink when it came, and took out her notebook.
“Thought it wouldn’t be long before you lot came sniffing around, all that activity going on out there,” said the young man. His biceps bulged as he pulled Banks’s pint.
“And you’ll be?”
“Cameron Clarke. Landlord. Everyone calls me CC.”
Banks paid for the drinks, against CC’s protests, and took a sip of his beer. “Well, Cameron,” he said, “this is a nice pint you keep, I must say.”
Banks turned to the girl. “And you are?”
“Kelly,” she said, shifting from foot to foot and twirling her hair. “Kelly Soames. I just work here.”
Like CC, Kelly wore a white T-shirt with “The Cross Keys Inn” emblazoned across her chest. There was enough candlelight behind the bar to see that the thin material came to a stop about three inches above her low-rise jeans and broad studded belt, exposing a flat strip of pale white skin and a belly button from which hung a short silver chain. As far as Banks was concerned, the bare-midriff trend had turned every male over forty into a dirty old man.
He glanced around. A middle-aged couple he hadn’t noticed when he came in sat on the bench below the bay window, tourists by the look of them, anoraks and an expensive camera bag on the seat beside them. Several of the people were smoking, and Banks suppressed a sudden urge for a cigarette. He addressed the whole pub. “Does anyone know what’s happened up the road?”
They all shook their heads and muttered no.
“Anyone leave here during the last couple of hours?”
“One or two,” CC answered.
“I’ll need their names.”
CC told him.
“When did the electricity go off?”
“About two hours ago. There’s a line down on the Eastvale Road. It could take an hour or two more, or so they said.”
It was half past nine now, Banks noted, so the power cut had occurred at half past seven. It would be easy enough to check the exact time with Yorkshire Electricity, but that would do to be going on with. If Nick, the victim, had been killed between six and eight, then, had the killer seized the opportunity of the cover of extra darkness, or had he acted sooner, between six and half past seven? It probably didn’t matter, except that the power cut had brought Mrs. Tanner to check on her tenant, and the body had been discovered perhaps quite a bit sooner than the killer had hoped.
“Anyone arrive after the electricity went off?”
“We arrived at about a quarter to eight,” said the man in the bay-window seat. “Isn’t that right, darling?”
The woman beside him nodded.
“We were on our way to Eastvale, back to the hotel,” he went on, “and this is the first place we saw that was open. I don’t like driving after dark at the best of times.”
“I don’t blame you,” Banks said. “Did you see anyone else on the road?”
“No. I mean, there might have been a car or two earlier, but we didn’t see anyone after the power went out.”
“Where were you coming from?”
“Did you see anyone when you parked here?”
“No. I mean, I don’t think so. The wind was so loud and the branches…”
“You might have seen someone?”
“I thought I saw the taillights of a car,” the man’s wife said.
“Heading up the hill. Straight on. I don’t know where the road goes. But I can’t be certain. As my husband says, it was a bit like a hurricane out there. It could have been something else flashing in the dark, a lantern or a torch or something.”
“You didn’t see or hear anything else?”
They both shook their heads.
A possible sighting of a car heading up the unfenced road over the moors, then; that was the sum of it. They would make inquiries at the youth hostel, of course, but it was hardly likely their murderer was conveniently staying there. Still, someone might have seen something.
Banks turned back to CC. “We’ll need statements from everyone in here. Names and addresses, when they arrived, that sort of thing. I’ll send someone over. For the moment, though, did anyone leave and come back between six and eight?”
“I did,” said one of the cardplayers.
“What time would that be?”
“About seven o’clock.”
“How long were you gone?”
“About fifteen minutes. As long as it takes to drive to Lyndgarth and back.”
“Why did you drive to Lyndgarth and back?”
“I live there,” he said. “I thought I might have forgotten to turn the gas ring off after I had my tea, so I went back to check.”
“And had you?”
“Turned the gas ring off?”
“Wasted journey, then.”
“Not if I hadn’t turned it off.”
That raised a titter from his cronies. Banks didn’t want to get mired any deeper in Yorkshire logic.
“You still haven’t told us what’s happened,” another of the cardplayers piped up. “Why are you asking all these questions?” A candle guttered on the table and went out, leaving his gnarled face in shadow.
“This is just the beginning,” said Banks, thinking he might as well tell them. They would find out soon enough. “It looks very much as if we have a murder on our hands.”
A collective gasp rose from the drinkers, followed by more muted muttering. “Who was it, if I might ask?” said CC.
“I wish I knew,” said Banks. “Maybe you can help me there. All I know is that his name was Nick and he was staying at Moorview Cottage.”
“Mrs. Tanner’s young lad, then?” said CC. “She was in here looking for him not so long ago.”
“I know,” said Banks. “She found him.”
“Poor woman. Tell her there’s a drink on the house waiting for her, whatever she wants.”
“Have you seen her husband tonight?” Banks asked, remembering that Mrs. Tanner had told him her husband was at a darts match.
“Jack Tanner? No. He’s not welcome here.”
“I’m sorry to say it, but he’s a troublemaker. Ask anyone. Soon as he’s got three or four pints into him he’s picking on someone.”
“I see,” said Banks. “That’s interesting to know.”
“Now, wait a minute,” protested CC. “I’m not saying he’s capable of owt like that.”
“You know. What you said. Murdering someone.”
“Do you know anything about the young man?” Annie asked.
CC was so distracted by her breaking her silence that he stopped spluttering. “He came in a couple of times,” he said.
“Did he talk to anyone?”
“Only to ask for a drink, like. And food. He had a bar snack here once, didn’t he, Kelly?”
Kelly was on the verge of tears, Banks noticed. “Anything to add?” he asked her.
Even in the candlelight, Banks could see that she blushed. “No,” she said. “Why should I?”
“Look, he was just a normal bloke,” CC said. “You know, said hello, smiled, put his glass back on the bar when he left. Not like some.”
“Did he smoke?”
CC seemed puzzled by the question, then he said, “Yes. Yes, he did.”
“Did he stand at the bar and chat?” Annie asked.
“He wasn’t the chatty sort,” said CC. “He’d take his drink and go sit over there with the newspaper.” He gestured toward the hearth.
“Which newspaper?” Banks asked.
CC frowned. “The Independent,” he said. “I think he liked to do the crossword. Too hard for me, that one. I can barely manage the Daily Mirror. Why? Does it matter?”
Banks favored him with a tight smile. “Maybe it doesn’t,” he said, “but I like to know these things. It tells me he was intelligent, at any rate.”
“If you call doing crossword puzzles intelligent, I suppose it does. I think they’re a bit of a waste of time, myself.”
“Ah, but you can’t do them, can you?”
“Does either of you have any idea what he did for a living?” Annie asked, glancing from CC to Kelly and back.
“I told you,” said CC. “He wasn’t chatty, and I’m not especially the nosy type. Man wants to come in here and have a quiet drink, he’s more than welcome, as far as I’m concerned.”
“So it never came up?” Annie said.
“No. Maybe he was a writer or a reviewer or something.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, if he didn’t have the newspaper, he always had a book with him.” He glanced toward Banks. “And don’t ask me what book he was reading, because I didn’t spot the title.”
“Any idea what he was doing here, this time of year?” Banks asked.
“None. Look, we often get people staying at Moorview Cottage dropping by for a pint or a meal, and we don’t know any more or less about them than we did about him. You don’t get to know people that quickly, especially if they’re the quiet type.”
“Point taken,” said Banks. He knew quite well how long it took the locals to accept newcomers in a place like Fordham, and no holidaying cottager could ever stay long enough. “That just about wraps it up for now.” He looked at Annie. “Anything else you can think of?”
“No,” said Annie, putting away her notebook.
Banks drained his pint. “Right, then, we’ll be off, and someone will be over to take your statements.”
Kelly Soames was chewing on her plump pink lower lip, Banks noticed, glancing back as he followed Annie out of the pub.
Monday, 8th September, 1969
The newshounds had sniffed out a crime at about the same time that the incident van arrived, and the first on the scene was a Yorkshire Evening Post reporter, shortly followed by local radio and television, the same people who had no doubt been reporting on the festival. Chadwick knew that his relationship with them was held in a delicate balance. They were after a sensational story, one that would make people buy their newspapers or tune in to their channel, and Chadwick needed them on his side. They could be of invaluable help in identifying a victim, for example, or even in staging a reconstruction. In this case, there wasn’t much he could tell them. He didn’t go into details about the wounds, nor did he mention the flower painted on the victim’s cheek, though he knew that that was the sort of sensationalist information they wanted. The more he could keep out of the public domain, the better when it came to court. He did, however, get them to agree to let police look at the weekend’s footage. It would probably be a waste of time, but it had to be done.
When Chadwick was done at the field it was afternoon, and he realized he was hungry. He had DC Bradley drive him to the nearest village, Denleigh, about a mile to the northeast. It had turned into a fine day, and only a thin gauze of cloud hung in the sky to filter a little of the sun’s heat. The village had a sort of stunned appearance about it, and Chadwick noticed that it was unusually messy, the streets littered with wastepaper and empty cigarette packets.
At first it seemed there was nobody about, but then they saw a man walking by the village green and pulled up beside him. He was a tweedy sort with a stiff-brush mustache and a pipe. He looked to Chadwick like a retired military officer, reminded him of a colonel he’d had in Burma during the war.
“Anywhere to eat around here?” Chadwick asked, winding the window down.
“Fish-and-chip shop, just round the corner,” the man said. “Should be still open.” Then he peered more closely at Chadwick. “Do I know you?”
“I don’t think so,” Chadwick said. “I’m a policeman.”
“Huh. We could have done with a few more of your lot around this weekend,” the man went on. “By the way, Forbes is the name. Archie Forbes.”
They shook hands through the window. “Unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere, Mr. Forbes,” said Chadwick. “Was there any damage?”
“One of them broke the newsagent’s window when Ted told them he’d run out of cigarette papers. Some of them even slept in Mrs. Wrigley’s back garden. Scared her half to death. I suppose you’re here about that girl they found dead in a sleeping bag?”
“News travels fast.”
“It does around these parts. Communism. You mark my words. That’s what’s behind it. Communism.”
“Probably,” said Chadwick, moving to wind up the window.
Forbes kept talking. “I still have one or two contacts in the intelligence services, if you catch my drift,” he said, putting a crooked finger to the side of his nose, “and there’s no doubt in my mind, and in the minds of many other right-thinking people, I might add, that this is a lot more than just youthful high spirits. Behind it all you’ll find those French and German student anarchist groups, and behind them you’ll find communism. Need I spell it out, sir? The Russians.” He took a puff on his pipe. “There’s no doubt in my mind that there are some very unscrupulous people directing events behind the scenes, unscrupulous foreigners, for the most part, and their goal is the overthrow of democratic government everywhere. Drugs are only a part of their master plan. These are frightening times we live in.”
“Yes,” said Chadwick. “Well, thanks very much, Mr. Forbes. We’ll be off for those fish and chips now.” He signaled for Bradley to drive off as he wound up the window, leaving Forbes staring after them. They had a laugh about Forbes, though Chadwick believed there might be something in what he’d said about foreign students fomenting dissent. They soon found the fish-and-chip shop and sat in the car eating.
When Chadwick had finished, he screwed up the newspaper, then excused himself, got out of the car and put it in the rubbish bin. Next he went into the telephone booth beside the fish-and-chip-shop and dialed home. Janet answered on the third ring. “Hello, darling,” she said. “Is anything wrong?”
“No, nothing’s wrong,” said Chadwick. “I was wondering about Yvonne. How is she today?”
“Back to normal, it seems.”
“Did she say anything about last night?”
“No. We didn’t talk. She left for school at the usual time and gave me a quick peck on the cheek on her way out. Look, let’s just leave it at that for the time being, darling, can’t we?”
“If she’s sleeping with someone, I want to know who it is.”
“And what good would that do you? What would you do if you knew? Go over and beat him up? Arrest him? Be sensible, Stan. She’ll tell us in her own time.”
“Or when it’s too late.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, never mind,” said Chadwick. “Look, I have to go. Don’t bother keeping dinner warm tonight. I’ll probably be late.”
“I don’t know. Don’t wait up.”
“What is it?”
“Murder. A nasty one. You’ll hear all about it on the evening news.”
“Be careful, Stan.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
Chadwick hung up and went back to the car.
“Everything all right, sir?” Bradley asked, window rolled down, halfway through his post-fish-and-chips cigarette. The car’s interior smelled of lard, vinegar and warm newsprint.
“Yes,” said Chadwick. “Right now, I think we’d better head back to Brimleigh Glen and see what’s been happening there, don’t you?”
Monday, 8th September, 1969
The search team had fastened tape to the four trees that surrounded the little grove deep in Brimleigh Woods, about two hundred yards from where the body had been found. The woods were dense enough that, from there, you couldn’t see as far as the field, and any noise would certainly have been drowned out by the music.
The police dog had found the spot easily enough by following the smell of the victim’s blood. Officers had also marked off the route the dog had taken, and painted little crosses on the trees. Every inch of the path would have to be searched. For the moment, though, Chadwick, Enderby and Bradley stood behind the tape gazing down at the bloodstained ground.
“This where it happened?” Chadwick asked.
“So the experts tell me,” said Enderby, pointing to bloodstains on the leaves and undergrowth. “There’s some blood here, consistent with the wounds the victim received.”
“Wouldn’t the killer have been covered in blood?” Bradley asked.
“Not necessarily,” said Enderby. “Peculiar things, stab wounds. Certainly with a slashed neck artery or vein, or a head wound, there’s quite a lot of spatter, but with the heart, oddly enough, the edges of the wound close and most of the bleeding is internal, it doesn’t spurt the way many people think it does. There’s quite a bit of seepage, of course – that’s what you’re seeing here and in the sleeping bag – and I doubt he’d have got away with his hands completely clean. After all, it looks as if he stabbed her five or six time and twisted the blade.” He gestured to the edge of the copse. “If you look over there, though, by the stream, you can see that little pile of leaves. They’ve got traces of blood on them, too. I reckon that he tried to wipe it off with the leaves first, then he washed his hands in the running water.”
“Get it all collected and sent to the lab,” said Chadwick, turning away. He wasn’t usually sentimental about victims, but he couldn’t get the image of the innocent-looking girl in the bloodstained white dress out of his mind, and he couldn’t help but think of his own daughter. “When did the doctor say he’d get around to the postmortem?”
“He said he’d try for later this afternoon, sir,” said Enderby.
“We’ve interviewed most of the people on security duty,” Enderby added.
“Nothing, I’m afraid, sir. They all agree there was so much coming and going, so much pandemonium, that nobody knows who was where when. I’ve a good suspicion most of them were partaking of the same substances as the musicians and guests, too, which doesn’t help their memories much. Lots of people were wandering around in a daze.”
“Hmm,” said Chadwick. “I didn’t think we could expect too much from them. What about the girl?”
“No one admits definitely to seeing her, but we’ve got a couple of cautious maybes.”
“Push a bit harder.”
“Will do, sir.”
Chadwick sighed. “I suppose we’d better arrange to talk to the groups who were backstage at the time, get statements, for what they’re worth.”
“Sir?” said Enderby.
“You might find that a bit difficult, sir. I mean… they’ll have all gone home now, and these people… well, they’re not readily accessible.”
“They’re no different from you and me, are they, Enderby? Not royalty or anything?”
“No, sir, more like film stars. But-”
“Well, then? I’ll deal with the two local groups, but as far as the rest are concerned, arrange to have them interviewed. Get someone to help you.”
“Yes, sir,” Enderby replied tightly, and turned away.
“I don’t know what the standards are in North Yorkshire, but while you’re working for me I’d prefer it if you got your hair cut.”
Enderby reddened. “Yes, sir.”
“Bit hard on him, weren’t you, sir?” said Bradley, when Enderby had gone.
“He’s a scruff.”
“No, sir. I mean about questioning the groups. He’s right, you know. Some of these pop stars are a bit high and mighty.”
“What would you have me do, Simon? Ignore the fifty or so people who might have seen the victim with her killer because they’re some sort of gods?”
“Come on. Let’s head back home. I should be in time for Dr. O’Neill’s postmortem if I’m lucky, and I want you to go to Yorkshire Television and the BBC and have a look at the footage they shot of the festival.”
“What am I looking for, sir?”
“Right now, anything. The girl, anyone she might have been with. Any odd or unusual behavior.” Chadwick paused. “On second thought, don’t worry about that last bit. It’s all bound to be odd and unusual, given the people we’re dealing with.”
Bradley laughed. “Yes, sir.”
“Just use your initiative, laddie. At least you won’t have to watch the doctor open the poor girl up.”
Before they walked away, Chadwick turned back to the bloodstained ground.
“What is it, sir?” Bradley asked.
“Something that’s been bothering me all morning. The sleeping bag.”
“Aye. Who did it belong to?”
“Her, I suppose,” said Bradley.
“Perhaps,” Chadwick said. “But why would she carry it into the woods with her? It just seems odd, that’s all.
It was after midnight when the lights came back on, and the wind was still raging, now lashing torrents of rain against the windows and lichen-stained roofs of Fordham. The coroner’s van had taken the body away, and Dr. Glendenning had said he would try to get the postmortem done the following day, even though it was a Saturday. The SOCOs worked on in the new light just as they had done before, collecting samples, labeling and storing everything carefully. So far, they had discovered nothing of immediate importance. One or two members of the local media had arrived, and the police press officer, David Whitney, was on the scene keeping them back and feeding them titbits of information.
Banks used the newly restored electric light to have a good look around the rest of the cottage, and it didn’t take him very long to realize that any personal items Nick might have had with him were gone except for his clothes, toiletries and a few books. There was no wallet, for example, no mobile, nothing with his name on it. The clothes didn’t tell him much. Nothing fancy, just casual Gap-style shirts, a gray-pinstripe jacket, cargos and Levi’s for the most part. All the toiletries told him was that Nick suffered from, or worried that he might suffer from, heartburn and indigestion, judging by the variety of antacids he had brought with him. Winsome reported that his car was a Renault Mégane, and to open it you needed a card, not a key. There wasn’t one in sight, so she had phoned the police garage in Eastvale, who said they would send someone out as soon as possible.
There was nothing relating to the car on the Police National Computer, Winsome added, so she would have to get the details from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea as soon as she could raise someone, which wouldn’t be easy on a weekend. If necessary, they could check the National DNA Database, which held samples of the DNA not only of convicted criminals but of anyone who had been arrested, even if they had been acquitted. The public railed about its attacks on freedom, but the database had come in useful more than once for identifying a body, among other things.
They would find out who Nick was soon enough, but someone was making it difficult for them, and Banks wondered why. Would knowing the victim’s identity point the police quickly in the direction of the killer? Did he need time to make his escape?
It was clear that only one of the two bedrooms had been used. The beds weren’t even made up in the other. From what Banks could see at a cursory glance, it looked as if both sides of the double bed had been slept on, but Nick might have been a restless sleeper. Peter Darby had already photographed the room, and the SOCOs would bag the sheets for testing. There was no sign of condoms in any of the bedside drawers, or anywhere else, for that matter, and nothing at all to show who, or what, the mysterious Nick had been, except for the paperback copy of Ian McEwan’s Atonement on the bedside table.
According to the Waterstone’s bookmark, Nick had got to page sixty-eight. Banks picked up the book and flipped through it. On the back endpaper, someone had written in faint pencil six uneven rows of figures, some of them circled. He turned to the front and saw the price of the book, £3.50, also in pencil, but in a different hand, at the top right of the first inside page. A secondhand book, then. Which meant that any number of people might have owned it and written the figures in the back. Still, it might mean something. Banks called up a SOCO to bag it and told him to be sure to make a photocopy of the page in question.
Frustrated by this early lack of knowledge of the victim, Banks went back downstairs. Usually he had a person’s books or CD collection to go on, not to mention the opinions of others, but this time all he knew was that Nick did the Independent crossword, was reading Atonement, was polite but not particularly chatty, favored casual clothing, perhaps suffered from indigestion, smoked Dunhills and wore glasses. It wasn’t anywhere near enough to help start figuring out who might have wanted him dead and why. Patience, he told himself, early days yet, but he didn’t feel patient.
By half past twelve, he’d had enough. Time to go home. Just as he was about to get PC Travers to fix up a lift for him, Annie edged over and said, “There’s not a lot more we can achieve hanging around here, is there?”
“Nothing,” said Banks. “The mechanics are all in motion and Stefan will get in touch with us if anything important comes up, but I doubt we’ll get any further tonight. Why?”
Annie smiled at him. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m starving and, as I remember, Marks and Spencer’s vegetarian lasagna heats up a treat. You know what they say about an army marching on its stomach and all that.”
Monday, 8th September, 1969
Yvonne Chadwick accepted the joint that Steve passed to her and drew deeply. She liked getting high. Not the hard stuff, no pills or needles, only dope. Sex was all right, too, she liked that well enough with Steve, but most of all she liked getting high, and the two usually went together really well. Music, too. They were listening to Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, and it sounded out of this world.
Take now. She was supposed to be at school, but she had taken the afternoon off. It was only games and free periods, anyway; the new term hadn’t really got under way yet. There was a house just up the road from her school, on Springfield Mount, where a group of hippies lived: Steve, Todd, Jacqui, American Charlie, and others who came and went. She had become friendly with them after she met Steve upstairs at the Peel, on Boar Lane, one night in April when she’d gone there with her friend Lorraine from school. She had just turned sixteen the month before, but she could pass for eighteen easily enough with a bit of makeup and high heels. Steve was the handsome, sensitive sort of boy, and she had fancied him straightaway. He’d read her some of his poetry, and while she didn’t really understand it, she could tell that it sounded important.
There were other houses she visited where people were into the same things, too – one on Carberry Place and another on Bayswater Terrace. Yvonne felt that she could turn up at any one of them at any time and feel as if she really belonged there. Everyone accepted her just as she was. Someone was always around to welcome her, maybe with a joint and a pot of jasmine tea. They all liked the same music, too, and agreed about society and the evils of the war and stuff. But Springfield Mount was the closest, and Steve lived there.
The air smelled of sandalwood incense, and there were posters on the walls: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, a creepy Salvador Dalí print and, even creepier, Goya’s etching The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters. Sometimes, when she was smoking really good dope, Yvonne would lose herself in that one, the sleeping artist surrounded by creatures of the night.
Mostly, they all just sat around and talked about the terrible shape the world was in and how they hoped to change it, end the war in Vietnam, free the universities from the establishment and their professor lackeys, put a stop to imperialism and capitalist oppression. Yvonne couldn’t wait to go to university; as far as she was concerned, that was where life got really exciting, not like boring old school, where they still treated you like a kid and weren’t interested in what you thought about the world. At university you were a student, and you went to demos and things. Steve was a second-year English student, but the term wasn’t due to start for a couple of weeks yet. He’d told her he would get her into all the great concerts at the university refectory next term, and she could hardly wait. The Moody Blues were coming, and Family and Tyrannosaurus Rex. There were even rumors of the Who coming to record a live concert.
They had already seen a lot of great local gigs together that summer: Thunderclap Newman at the town hall; Pink Floyd, Colosseum and Eire Apparent at Selby Abbey. She regretted missing the Isle of Wight – Dylan had been there, after all – but her parents wouldn’t let her go that far. She had two years to wait to go to university, and she had to get good A levels. Right now, that didn’t look like a strong possibility, but she’d worry about that later; she had just started in the lower sixth, so there was plenty of time yet to catch up. After all, she had managed to get seven very good O levels.
She had to admit, as she grinned through the haze of smoke, that things were looking pretty good. Sunday had been great. They had gone to the Brimleigh Festival – she, Steve, Todd, Charlie and Jacqui – and they had stayed up all night on the field sharing joints, food and drink with their fellow revelers. Steve had dropped acid, but Yvonne hadn’t wanted to because there were too many people around and she worried about getting paranoid. But Steve had seemed okay, though she’d got worried at one time when he disappeared for more than an hour. When it was all over, they went to Springfield Mount for a while to come down with a couple of joints, and then she went home to get ready for school, narrowly avoiding bumping into her father.
She hadn’t dared tell her parents where she was going. Christ, why did she have to have a father who was a pig, for crying out loud? It just wasn’t fair. If she told her new friends what her old man did for a living, they’d drop her like a hot coal. And if it wasn’t for her parents she could have gone to Brimleigh on Saturday, too. Steve and the others had been there both nights. But if she’d done that, she realized, they wouldn’t let her out on Sunday.
They were sitting on the living room floor propped up against the sofa. Just her and Steve this time; the others were all out. Some of the people who came and went she wasn’t too sure about at all. One of them, Magic Jack, was scary with his beard and wild eyes, although she had never seen him behave in any other way than gently, but the most frightening of all – and thank God he didn’t turn up very often – was McGarrity, the mad poet.
There was something about McGarrity that really worried Yvonne. Older than the rest, he had a thin, lined parchment face and black eyes. He always wore a black hat and a matching cape, and he had a flick-knife with a tortoiseshell handle. He never really talked to anyone, never joined in the discussions. Sometimes he would pace up and down tapping the blade against his palm, muttering to himself, reciting poetry. T. S. Eliot mostly, “The Waste Land.” Yvonne only recognized it because Steve had lent her a copy to read not so long ago, and he had explained its meaning to her.
Some people found McGarrity okay, but he gave Yvonne the creeps. She had asked Steve once why they let him hang around, but all Steve had said was that McGarrity was harmless really; it was just that his mind had been damaged a bit by the electric shock treatment they’d given him at the mental home when he deserted from the army. Besides, if they wanted a free and open society, how could they justify excluding people? There wasn’t much to say after that, though Yvonne thought there were probably a few people they wouldn’t like to have in the house: her dad, for example. McGarrity had been at Brimleigh, too, but luckily he’d wandered off and left them alone.
Yvonne could feel Steve’s hand on her thigh, gently stroking, and she turned to smile at him. It was all right, really it was all right. Her parents didn’t know it, but she was on the pill, had been since she’d turned sixteen. It wasn’t easy to get, and there was no way she would have asked old Cuthbertson, the family doctor. But her friend Maggie had told her about a new family-planning clinic on Woodhouse Lane where they were very concerned about teenage pregnancies and very obliging if you said you were over the age of consent.
Steve kissed her and put his hand on her breast. The dope they were smoking wasn’t especially strong, but it heightened her sense of touch as it did her hearing, and she felt herself responding to his caresses, getting wet. He undid the buttons on her school blouse and then she felt his hand moving up over her bare thighs. Jimi Hendrix was singing “ 1983” when Steve and Yvonne toppled onto the floor, pulling at one another’s clothing.
Monday, 8th September, 1969
Chadwick leaned back against the cool tiles of the mortuary wall and watched Dr. O’Neill and his assistant at work under the bright light. Postmortems had never bothered him, and this one was no exception, even though the victim had reminded him earlier of Yvonne. Now she was just an unfortunate dead girl on the porcelain slab. Her life was gone, drained out of her, and all that remained were flesh, muscle, blood, bone and organs. And, possibly, clues.
The painted cornflower looked even more incongruous in this harsh steel-and-porcelain environment, blooming on her dead cheek. Chadwick found himself wondering, not for the first time, whether it had been painted by the girl herself, by a friend or by her killer. And if the latter, what was its significance?
Dr. O’Neill had carefully removed the bloody dress, after matching the holes in the material to the wounds, and set it aside with the sleeping bag for further forensic testing. So far they had discovered that the sleeping bag was a cheap popular brand sold mainly through Woolworth’s.
The doctor bent over the pale naked body to examine the stab wounds. There were five in all, he noted, and one had been so hard and gone so deep that it had bruised the surrounding skin. If the hilt of the knife had caused the bruising, as Dr. O’Neill believed it had, they were dealing with a single-edged four-inch blade. A very thin, stiletto-type blade, too, allowing that it was a bit bigger than the actual wounds, owing to the elasticity of the skin. One strong possibility, he suggested, was a flick-knife. They were illegal in Britain but easy enough to pick up on the Continent.
Judging by the angles of the wounds, Dr. O’Neill concluded that the victim had been stabbed by a strong left-handed person standing behind her. The complete lack of defense wounds on her hands indicated that she had been so taken by surprise that she had either died or gone into shock before she knew what was happening.
“She may not have seen her killer, then,” said Chadwick, “unless it was someone she knew well enough to let that close?”
“I can’t speculate on that. You can see as well as I can, though, that there appear to be no other injuries to the surface of the body apart from that light bruising on the neck, which tells me someone held her in a stranglehold with his right arm while he stabbed her with his left. We’ll be testing for drugs, too, of course – it’s possible she was slipped something that immobilized her: Nembutal, Tuinal, something like that. But she was standing when she was stabbed – the angles tell us that much – so she must have been conscious.”
Chadwick looked down at the body. Dr. O’Neill was right. Apart from the faint discoloration on her neck and the mess around her left breast, she was in almost pristine condition: no cuts, no rope burns, nothing.
“Was he taller than her?” Chadwick asked.
“Yes, judging by the shape and position of the bruises and the angle of the cuts, I’d estimate by a good six inches. She was five foot four, which makes him at least five foot ten.”
“Would you say the bruising indicates a struggle?”
“Not necessarily. As you can see, it’s fairly mild. He could simply have had his arm loosely around her neck, then tightened it when he stabbed her. It probably all happened so quickly he didn’t need to restrain her. We already know there are no defensive wounds to the hands, which indicates she was taken by surprise. If that’s the case, she would have slumped as she died, and his arm could have caused the bruising then.”
“I thought bodies didn’t bruise after death.”
“This would have been the moment before death, or at the moment of death.” Dr. O’Neill turned his attention to the golden hair between the girl’s legs and Chadwick felt himself tense. So like Yvonne’s when he had seen her naked that time by accident at the caravan. How embarrassed they had both felt.
“Again,” said Dr. O’Neill, “we’ll have to do swabs and further tests, but there doesn’t appear to be any sign of sexual activity. There’s no bruising around the vaginal areas or the anus.”
“So you’re saying she wasn’t raped, she didn’t have sex?”
“I’m not committing myself to anything yet,” said Dr. O’Neill sharply. “Not until I’ve done an internal examination and the samples have been analyzed. All I’m saying is there are no obvious superficial signs of forced or rough sexual activity. One thing we did find was a tampon. It looks as if our victim was menstruating at the time of the murder.”
“Which still doesn’t rule out sexual activity altogether?”
“Not at all. But if she did have sex, she had time to put another tampon in before she was killed.”
Chadwick thought for a moment. If sex had been the reason for her death, then surely there would have been more signs of violence, unless they had been lovers to begin with. Had they made love first, then dressed, and while she was leaning back on him in the afterglow, he killed her? But why, if sex had been consensual? Had she, perhaps, refused, said she was having her period, and had that somehow angered her attacker? Were they really dealing with a nutcase?
As often as not, Chadwick knew, investigations, including the medical kind, threw up more questions than answers, and it was only through answering them that you made progress.
Chadwick watched as O’Neill and his assistant made the Y incision and peeled back the skin, muscle and soft tissues from the chest wall before pulling the chest flap up over her face and cutting through the rib cage with an electric saw. The smell was overwhelming. Raw meat. Lamb, mostly, Chadwick thought.
“Hmm, it’s as I suspected,” said Dr. O’Neill. “The chest cavity is filled with blood, as are all the other cavities. Massive internal bleeding.”
“Would she have died quickly?”
Dr. O’Neill probed around and remained silent a few minutes, then he said, “From the state of her, seconds at most. Look here. He twisted the knife so sharply he actually cut off a piece of her heart.”
Chadwick looked. As usual, he wished he could see what Dr. O’Neill did, but all he saw was a mass of glistening, bloody organ tissue. “I’ll take your word for it,” he said.
Dr. O’Neill’s assistant carefully started removing the inner organs for sectioning, further testing and examination. Barring any glaring anomalies, Chadwick knew it would be a few days before he received the results of all this. There was no real reason to stick around, and he had more than enough things to do. He left just as Dr. O’Neill started up the saw to cut through the victim’s skull and remove her brain.
Saturday morning dawned fresh and clear, and Helmthorpe had that rinsed and scoured look; the streets, limestone buildings and flagstone roofs still dark with rain, but the sun out, the sky blue and a cool wind to rattle the bare branches.
Banks fiddled with the attachment that let him play the iPod through the car stereo and was rewarded by Judy Collins singing “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” in a voice of such aching beauty and clarity that it made him want to laugh and cry at the same time. Sandy Denny’s lyrics had never seemed so doom-laden; they made him think about his brother Roy. Almost as a rebuke, it seemed, the Porsche coursed smoothly and powerfully through the late-autumn landscape.
After she had eaten the lasagna and drunk one small glass of wine, Annie had driven off to Harkside and left Banks to his own devices. It was after two in the morning, but he had poured himself a glass of Amarone and listened to Fischer-Dieskau’s 1962 Winterreise in the dark before heading for bed with a head full of gloomy thoughts. Even then he hadn’t been able to sleep. It was partly heartburn from eating so late – he wished he had taken one of Nick’s antacids, as he had none in the house – and partly disturbing dreams during those brief moments when he did nod off. Several times he awoke abruptly with his heart pounding and a vague, terrifying image skittering away down the slippery slopes of his subconscious. He had lain there taking slow, deep breaths until he had fallen asleep about an hour before the alarm went off.
The team gathered in the boardroom, crime scene photos pinned to the corkboard, but the whiteboard was conspicuously empty apart from the name, “Nick.” An incident van had been dispatched to Fordham earlier in the morning, fitted out with phones and computers. Information collected there would be collated and passed on to headquarters. Banks was officially the Senior Investigating Officer, appointed by Assistant Chief Constable Ron McLaughlin, and Annie was his deputy. Other tasks would be assigned to various officers according to their skills.
Since Detective Superintendent Gristhorpe had retired two months ago, they had been given a temporary replacement in Catherine Gervaise. There were those who muttered that Banks should have got the job, but he knew it had never been on the cards. He had got on well enough with ACC McLaughlin, “Red Ron,” and with the chief constable himself, on those rare occasions when they met, but he was too much of a loose cannon. If nothing else, running off to London to look for his brother, and getting involved in all that followed from that, had put several nails in the coffin of his career. Besides, he didn’t want the responsibility, or the paperwork. Gristhorpe had always left him alone to work cases the way he wanted, which meant he ended up doing a lot of the legwork and streetwork himself, because that was the way he liked it.
Catherine Gervaise was cool and distant, not a mentor and friend the way Gristhorpe had been, and under her rule he found that he had to fight harder for his privileges. She was an administrator through and through, an ambitious woman who had risen quickly through the ranks via accelerated-promotion schemes, management and computer courses and, some said, by affirmative action. This would be her first major investigation at Western Area Headquarters, so it would be interesting to see how she handled it. At least she wasn’t stupid, Banks thought, and she should know how best to use her resources.
Some were put off by her posh accent and Cheltenham Ladies’ College background, but Banks was inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, as long as she left him alone. The one thing they had in common, he discovered, was that she also had season tickets to Opera North, and he had seen her at a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor with her husband. He didn’t think she had noticed him. At least, she hadn’t let on. In appearance, she wore little makeup and was rather severe, with short blond hair, rather unexpected cupid’s-bow lips and a trim figure. In dress she was conservative, favoring navy suits and white blouses, and in manner she was no-nonsense, remaining aloof and either not getting the squad room humor, or not wishing to show that she did.
The superintendent asked for a summary of what they had so far, which wasn’t much. The blood-spatter analysis was consistent with the theory that Nick had been bashed over the back of the head with a poker as he had been turning away from his killer, perhaps walking toward his cigarettes. After that, he had been hit once or twice more – they wouldn’t know until Dr. Glendenning performed the postmortem – no doubt to make sure he was dead.
“Have we got any further identifying the victim?” Superintendent Gervaise asked next.
“A little, ma’am,” said Winsome. “At least the local memory tag on his license plate number indicates the car was registered in London.”
“It’s not hired?”
“No. We finally got a look inside with the help of the garage. Unfortunately, there was nothing inside to indicate who he was, either.”
“So someone really wanted to throw sand in our eyes.”
“Well, ma’am, it’s a fairly new car, and he might not have been the kind of person who lives out of it, but it certainly looks that way. Whoever did it must have known he could only have slowed the investigation down, though.” Winsome looked at Banks, who nodded for her to go on. “Which probably means that he wanted to give himself a bit of time to get far enough away and arrange an alibi.”
“Interesting theory, DC Jackman,” said Gervaise. “But that’s all it is, isn’t it, a theory?”
“Yes, ma’am. For the moment.”
“And we need facts.”
That was pretty much self-evident in any investigation, Banks thought. Of course you wanted facts, but until you got them you played around with theories, you used what you did have, then you applied a bit of imagination, and as often as not you came up with an approximation of the truth, which was what he thought Winsome was doing. So Ms. Gervaise wanted to establish herself as a just-the-facts, no-fancy-theories kind of superintendent. Well, so be it. The squad would soon learn to keep their theories to themselves, but Banks hoped her attitude wouldn’t completely crush their creativity, and wouldn’t stop them from confiding their theories in him. It was all very well to come in with an attitude, but it was another thing if that attitude destroyed the delicate balance that had already been achieved over time.
They were drastically short of DCs, having recently lost Gavin Rickerd, their best office manager, to the new neighborhood policing initiative, where he was working with community support officers and specials to tackle the antisocial behavior that was becoming increasingly the norm all over the country, especially on a Saturday night in Eastvale. Gavin hadn’t been replaced yet, and in his absence the job this time had gone to one of the uniformed constables, hardly the ideal choice, but the best they could do right now.
Banks wanted Winsome Jackman and Kev Templeton doing what they did best – tracking down information and following leads – and when it came to that, Detective Sergeant Hatchley had always been a bit slow and lazy. His physical presence used to help intimidate the odd suspect or two, but these days the ex-rugby player’s muscle had gone mostly to fat, and the police weren’t allowed to intimidate villains anymore. Villains’ Rights had put paid to that, or so it sometimes seemed, especially since a burglar had fallen off the roof of a warehouse he had broken into last summer, then sued the owner for damages and won.
“I’m trying to get in touch with the DVLA in Swansea,” Winsome said, “but it’s Saturday. They’re closed and I can’t seem to track down my contact.”
“Keep trying,” said Superintendent Gervaise. “Is there anything else?”
Winsome consulted her notes. “DS Templeton and I interviewed the people in the Cross Keys and took statements. Nothing new there. And when the lights came on we made a quick check of their outer clothing for signs of blood. There were none.”
“What’s your take on this?” Gervaise asked Banks.
“I don’t have enough facts yet to form an opinion,” Banks said.
The irony wasn’t lost on Superintendent Gervaise, who pursed her lips. She looked as if she had just bitten into a particularly vinegary pickle. Banks noticed Annie look away and smile to herself, pen against her lips, shaking her head slowly.
“I understand you entered a licensed premises during the early stages of the investigation yesterday evening,” Gervaise said.
“That’s right.” Banks wondered who had been talking, and why.
“I suppose you know there are regulations governing drinking whilst on duty?”
“With all due respect,” Banks said, “I didn’t go there for a drink. I went to question possible witnesses.”
“But you did have a drink?”
“While I was there, yes. I find it puts people at ease. They see you as more like they are, not as the enemy.”
“Duly noted,” said Gervaise dryly. “And did you find any cooperative witnesses?”
“Nobody seemed to know very much about the victim,” Banks said. “He was renting a cottage, not a local.”
“On holiday at this time of year?”
“That’s what I wondered about.”
“Find out what he was doing there. That might help us get to the bottom of this.”
Quite the one for dishing out obvious orders, was Superintendent Gervaise, Banks thought. He’d had bosses like that before: State the obvious, the things your team would do anyway, without even being asked, and take the credit for the results. “Of course,” he said. “We’re working on it. One of the staff might know a bit more than she’s letting on.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Her manner, body language.”
“All right. Question her. Bring her in, if necessary.”
Banks could tell by Superintendent Gervaise’s clipped tone and the way her hand strayed to her short layered locks that she was getting bored with the meeting and anxious to get away, no doubt to send out a memo on drinking while on duty, or the ten most obvious courses to pursue during a murder inquiry.
“If that’s all for now, ladies and gentlemen,” she went on, stuffing her papers into her briefcase, “then I suggest we all get down to work.”
To a chorus of muttered “Yes, ma’ams” she left the room, heels clicking against the hardwood floor. Only after she’d gone did Banks realize that he had forgotten to tell her about the figures in the book.
Monday, 8th September, 1969
Janet was watching The News at Ten when Chadwick got home that evening, and Reginald Bosanquet was talking about ITA’s exciting new UHF color transmissions from the Crystal Palace transmitter, which was all very well, Chadwick thought, if you happened to own a color TV. He didn’t. Not on a DI’s pay of a little over two thousand pounds per year. Janet walked toward him.
“Hard day?” she asked.
Chadwick nodded, kissed her and sat down in his favorite armchair.
“A small whiskey would go down nicely. Yvonne not home yet?” He glanced at the clock. Twenty past ten.
“Know where she is?”
Janet turned from pouring the whiskey. “Out with friends was all she said.”
“She shouldn’t go out so often on school nights. She knows that.”
Janet handed him the drink. “She’s sixteen. We can’t expect her to do everything the way we’d like it. Things are different these days. Teenagers have a lot more freedom.”
“Freedom? As long as she’s under this roof we’ve a right to expect some degree of honesty and respect from her, haven’t we?” Chadwick argued. “The next thing you know she’ll be dropping out and running off to live in a hippie commune. Freedom.”
“Oh, give it a rest, Stan. She’s going through a stage, that’s all.” Janet softened her tone. “She’ll get over it. Weren’t you just a little bit rebellious when you were sixteen?”
Chadwick tried to remember. He didn’t think so. It was 1937 when he was sixteen, before “teenagers” had been invented, when youth was simply an unfortunate period one had to pass through on the route from childhood to maturity. Another world. George VI was crowned king that year, Neville Chamberlain became prime minister and looked likely to get along well with Hitler, and the Spanish Civil War was at its bloodiest. But Chadwick had paid only scant attention to world affairs. He was at grammar school then, on a scholarship, playing rugby with the first fifteen, and all set for a university career that was interrupted by the war and somehow never got resurrected.
He had volunteered for the Green Howards in 1940 because his father had served with them in the First World War, and spent the next five years killing first Japanese, then Germans, while trying to stay alive himself. After it was all over and he was back on civvy street in his demob suit, it took him six years to get over it. Six years of dead-end jobs, bouts of depression, loneliness and hunger. He nearly died of cold in the bitter winter of 1947. Then it was as if the weight suddenly lifted, and the lights came on. He joined the West Riding Constabulary in 1951. The following year he met Janet at a dance. They were married only three months later, and a year after that, in March 1953, Yvonne was born.
Rebellious? He didn’t think so. It seemed to be a young person’s lot in life to go off to war back then, just like the generation before him, and in the army you obeyed orders. He’d got into minor mischief like all the other kids, smoking before he was old enough, the odd bit of shoplifting, sneaking drinks from his father’s whiskey bottle, replacing what he’d drunk with water. He also got into the occasional scrap. But one thing he didn’t dare do was disobey his parents. If he had stayed out all night without permission, his father would have beaten him black and blue.
Chadwick grunted. He didn’t suppose Janet really wanted an answer; she was just trying to ease the way for Yvonne’s arrival home, which he hoped would be soon.
The news finished at ten forty-five and the late-night “X” film came on. Normally Chadwick wouldn’t bother watching such rubbish, but this week it was Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which he and Janet had seen at the Lyric about eight years ago, and he didn’t mind watching it again. At least it was the sort of life he could understand, real life, not long-haired kids listening to loud music and taking drugs.
It was about quarter past eleven when he heard the front door open and shut. By that time, his anger had edged over into concern, but in a parent the two are often so intermingled as to be indistinguishable.
“Where have you been?” he asked Yvonne when she walked into the living room in her pale blue bell-bottomed jeans and red cheesecloth top with white-and-blue embroidery down the gathered front. Her eyes looked a little bleary, but other than that she seemed all right.
“That’s a nice welcome,” she said.
“Are you going to answer me?”
“If you must know, I’ve been to the Grove.”
“Down past the station, by the canal.”
“And what goes on there?”
“Nothing goes on. It’s folk night on Mondays. People sing folk songs and read poetry.”
“You know you’re not old enough to drink.”
“I wasn’t drinking. Not alcohol, anyway.”
“You smell of smoke.”
“It’s a pub, Dad. People were smoking. Look, if all you’re going to do is go on at me like this, I’m off to bed. It’s a school day tomorrow, or didn’t you know?”
“Enough of your cheek! You’re too young to be hanging around pubs in town. God knows who-”
“If it was up to you I wouldn’t have any friends at all, would I? And I’d never go anywhere. You make me sick!”
And with that Yvonne stomped upstairs to her room.
Chadwick made to follow her, but Janet grabbed his arm. “No, Stan. Not now. Let’s not have another flaming row. Not tonight.”
Furious as he felt, Chadwick realized she was right. Besides, he was exhausted. Not the best time to get into a long argument with his daughter. But he’d have it out with her tomorrow. Find out what she was up to, where she had been all Sunday night, exactly what crowd she was hanging around with. Even if he had to follow her.
He could hear her banging about upstairs, using the toilet and the bathroom, slamming her bedroom door, making a point of it. It was impossible to get back into the film now. Impossible to go to sleep, too, no matter how tired he felt. If he’d had a dog he would have taken it for a walk. Instead he poured himself another small whiskey, and while Janet pretended to read her Woman’s Weekly he pretended to watch Saturday Night and Sunday Morning until all was silent upstairs and it was safe to go to bed.
Annie took a chance that Kelly Soames would be turning up for work on Saturday morning, so she parked behind the incident van in Fordham and adjusted her rearview mirror so that she could see the pub and the road behind her. Banks had told her he thought Kelly didn’t want to talk last night because there were people around and she might have a personal secret; therefore, it would be a good idea to get her alone, take her somewhere. He also thought a woman might have more chance of getting whatever it was out of her, hence Annie.
Just before eleven o’clock, Annie saw Kelly get out of a car. She recognized the driver; he was one of the men who had been in the pub the previous evening, one of the cardplayers. As soon as he had driven off and turned the bend, Annie backed up and intercepted Kelly. “A word with you, please,” she said.
Kelly made toward the pub door. “I can’t. I’ll be late for work.”
Annie opened her passenger door. “You’ll be a lot later if you don’t come with me now.”
Kelly chewed her lip, then muttered something under her breath and got in the old purple Astra. It was long past time for a new car, Annie realized, but she’d had neither the time nor the money lately. Banks had offered her his Renault when he got the Porsche, but she had declined. It wasn’t her kind of car, for a start, and there was something rather shabby in her mind about taking Banks’s castoffs. She’d buy something new soon, but for now, the Astra still got her where she wanted to go.
Annie set off up the hill, past the youth hostel, where a couple of uniforms were still making inquiries, on to the wild moorland beyond. She pulled over into a lay-by next to a stile. It was the start of a walk to an old lead mine, Annie knew, as Banks had taken her there to show her where someone had once found a body in the flue. That morning, there was no one around and the wind raged, whistling around the car, plucking at the purple heather and rough sere grass. Kelly took a packet of Embassy Regals out of her handbag, but Annie pushed her hand down and said, “No. Not in here. I don’t like the smell of smoke, and I’m not opening the windows. It’s too cold.”
Kelly put the cigarettes away and pouted.
“Last night, when we were talking in the pub,” Annie said, “you reacted in a rather extreme way about what happened.”
“Well, someone got killed. I mean, it might be normal for you, but not round here. It was a shock, that’s all.”
“It seemed like a personal shock.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do I have to spell it out, Kelly?”
“I’m not thick.”
“Then stop playing games. What was your relationship with the deceased?”
“I didn’t have a relationship. He came in the pub, that’s all. He had a nice smile, said have one for yourself. Isn’t that enough?”
“Enough for what?”
“Enough to be upset that he’s dead.”
“Look, I’m sorry if this is hard for you,” Annie went on, “but we’re only doing this because we care, too.”
Kelly shot her a glance. “You never even saw him when he was alive. You didn’t even know he existed.”
True, it was one of the things about Annie’s job that she more often than not found herself investigating the deaths of strangers. But Banks had taught her that during the course of such investigations they don’t remain strangers. You get to know the dead, become their voice, in a way, because they can no longer speak for themselves. She couldn’t explain this to Kelly, though.
“He’d been in the cottage a week,” said Annie, “and you’re telling me you only saw him when he came into the pub and said hello.”
“You seem more upset than I think you would be if that was all.”
Kelly folded her arms. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Annie turned to face her. “I think you do, Kelly.”
They sat silently cocooned in the car, Kelly stiff, facing the front, Annie turned sideways in her seat, looking at her profile. A few spots of acne stood out on the girl’s right cheek and she had a little white scar at the outer edge of one eyebrow. Outside, the wind continued to rage through the moorland grass and to rock the car a little with unexpected gusts and buffets. The sky was a vast expanse of blue with small, high fast-moving white clouds casting brief shadows on the moor. It must have been three, maybe four minutes, an awful long time in that sort of situation, anyway, before Kelly started to shiver a little, and before long she was shaking like a leaf in Annie’s arms, tears streaming down her face. “You mustn’t tell my father,” she kept saying through the tears. “You mustn’t tell my father.”
Tuesday, 9th September, 1969
On Tuesday evening, Yvonne was in her room after teatime reading Mark Knopfler’s column in the Yorkshire Evening Post. He wrote about the music scene, as well as sometimes jamming with local bands at the Peel and the Guildford, and she thought he might have something to say about Brimleigh, but this week’s column was about a series of forthcoming concerts at the Harrogate Theatre – the Nice, the Who, Yes, Fairport Convention. It sounded great, if her father would let her go to Harrogate.
She heard a knock at her door and was surprised to see her father standing there. Even more surprised to see that he didn’t appear angry with her. Her mother must have put in a good word for her. Even so, she braced herself for the worst: accusations, the cutting of pocket money and limitation of freedom, but they didn’t come. Instead, they came to a compromise. She would be allowed to go to the Grove on Mondays, but had to be home by eleven o’clock and must under no circumstances drink any alcohol. Then she had to stop in and do her homework every other school night. She could also go out Friday and Saturday. But not all night. He tried to get her to tell him where she’d been on Sunday, but all she’d said was she spent the night listening to music with friends and had lost track of the time. Somehow, she got the impression that he didn’t believe her, but instead of pushing it, he asked, “Have you got anything by Led Zeppelin?”
“Led Zeppelin? Yes. Why?” They had only released one LP so far, and Yvonne had bought it with the record token her Aunt Moira had given her for her sixteenth birthday back in March. It said in Melody Maker that they had a new album coming out next month, and Robert Plant had mentioned it at Brimleigh, when they had played songs from it, like “Heartbreaker.” Yvonne could hardly wait. Robert Plant was so sexy.
“Would you say they’re loud?”
Yvonne laughed. “Pretty loud, yes.”
“Mind if I give them a listen?”
Still confused, Yvonne said, “No, not at all. Go ahead.” She picked it out of her pile and handed it to him, the LP with the big zeppelin touching the edge of the Eiffel Tower and bursting into flames.
The Dansette record player that her father had got for five thousand Embassy coupons before he stopped smoking was downstairs, in the living room. It was a bone of contention, as Yvonne maintained that she was the only one who bought records and really cared about music, apart from the occasional Johnny Mathis and Jim Reeves her mother put on, and her father’s few big-band LPs. She thought it should be in her room, but her father insisted that it was the family record player.
At least he had bought her, for her birthday, an extra speaker unit that you could plug in and create a real stereo effect, and she had the little transistor radio she kept on her bedside table, but she still had to wait until her parents were out before she could listen to her own records properly, at the right volume.
She went down with him and turned it on. He didn’t even seem to know how to operate the thing, so Yvonne took over. Soon, “Good Times, Bad Times” was blasting out loudly enough to bring Janet dashing in from the kitchen to see what was going on.
After listening to less than half of the song, Chadwick turned down the volume and asked, “Are they all like that?”
“You’d probably think so,” Yvonne said, “but every song is different. Why?”
“Nothing, really. Just something I was wondering about.” He rejected the LP and switched off the record player. “Thanks. You can have it back now.”
Still puzzled, Yvonne put the LP back in its sleeve and went up to her room.
Banks looked out of his office window. It was market day, and the wooden stalls spread out over the cobbled square, canvas covers flapping in the wind, selling everything from cheap shirts and flat caps to used books, bootleg CDs and DVDs. The monthly farmers’ market extended farther across the square, selling locally grown vegetables, Wensleydale and Swaledale cheese, and organic beef and pork. Banks thought all beef and pork – not to mention wine, fruit and vegetables – was organic, but someone had told him it really meant “organically raised,” without pesticides or chemicals. Why didn’t they say that, then? he wondered.
Locals and tourists alike mingled and sampled the wares. When they had finished there, Banks knew, many of them would be moving on to the big car-boot sale at Catterick, where they would agonize over buying dodgy mobile phones for a couple of quid and dubious fifty-pee inkjet refills.
It was half past twelve. Banks had spent the rest of the morning after the meeting going over the SOCO exhibits lists and talking with Stefan and Vic Manson about fingerprints and possible DNA samples from the bedding at Moorview Cottage. What they would prove he didn’t know, but he needed everything he could get. And these were probably the kind of “facts” over which Detective Superintendent Gervaise salivated. That wasn’t fair, he realized, especially as he had decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, but that remark about going to the pub had stung. He had felt like a schoolboy on the headmaster’s carpet again.
Martha Argerich was playing a Beethoven piano concerto on Radio 3 in the background. It was a live recording, and in the quiet bits Banks could hear people in the audience coughing. He thought again about seeing Catherine Gervaise and her husband at Opera North. They had much better seats than he had, closer to the front. They’d have been able to see the sweat and spittle at close hand. Rumor had it that Superintendent Gervaise was after a commander’s job at Scotland Yard, but until something came up, they were stuck with her in Eastvale.
Banks sat down and picked up the book again. It looked well-thumbed. He had never read any Ian McEwan, but the name was on his list. One day. He liked the opening well enough.
The book gave no clue as to where it had been bought. Some secondhand bookshops, Banks knew, had little stamps on the inside cover with their name and address on, but not this one. He would check the local shops to see if the victim had bought it in Eastvale, where there were two possible suppliers, and a number of charity shops that sold used books.
Nick hadn’t written his name on the inside, the way some people do. All it said was £3.50. There was a sticker on the back, and Banks realized it was from Border’s; he’d seen it before. There looked to be enough coded information on there to locate the branch, but he very much doubted that that would lead him to the actual customer who had bought it originally. And who knew how many people had owned it since then?
Once again he turned to the neat penciled figures in the back:
6, 8, 9, 21, 22, 25
1, 2, 3, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23
10, , 13
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 22, 23, 25, 26, 30
2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, , 21, 22, 23
They meant nothing to him, but then he had never been any good at codes, if that was what it was supposed to be, or anything to do with numbers, really. He couldn’t even tackle sudokus. It might be the most obvious sequence of prime negative ordinals, or whatever, in the world, and he wouldn’t know it from a betting slip. He racked his brains to think of someone who was good at stuff like that. Not Annie or Kev Templeton, that was for sure. Winsome was good with computers, so maybe she had a strong mathematical brain. Then it came to him. Of course! How could he have forgotten so soon? He grabbed his internal telephone directory, but before he could find the number he wanted, the phone rang. It was Winsome.
“We’ve got him. I mean, we know who he is. The victim.”
“Sorry it took so long, but my contact at the DVLA was at a wedding this morning. That’s why I couldn’t get in touch with her. She had her mobile turned off.”
“Who is he?”
“His name is Nicholas Barber, and he lived in Chiswick.” Winsome gave Banks an address.
“Bloody hell,” said Banks. “That’s the second Londoner killed up here this year. If they get wind of that down south, the tourists will all think there’s a conspiracy and stop coming.”
“A lot of people might think that wouldn’t be such a bad idea, sir,” said Winsome. “Maybe then some of the locals would be able to afford to live here.”
“Don’t you believe it. Estate agents would find some other way to gouge the buyers. Anyway, now we know who he is, we can see about checking his phone records. I can’t believe he didn’t have a mobile.”
“Even if he had, he couldn’t have used it in Fordham. No coverage.”
“Yes, but he might have gone to Eastvale or somewhere to make calls.”
“But what network?”
“Check with all the majors.”
“I know. It’s Saturday. Just do the best you can, Winsome. If you have to wait until Monday morning, so be it. Nick Barber’s not going anywhere, and his killer’s already long gone.”
“Will do, sir.”
Banks thought for a moment. Nick Barber – there was something familiar about that name, but he couldn’t for the life him remember what it was. Then he reached for the directory again and carried on with what he had been doing.
Annie let Kelly Soames collect herself and dry her eyes, trying to minimize the embarrassment the young girl obviously felt at her outburst of emotion.
“I’m sorry,” Kelly said finally. “I’m not usually like this. It’s just the shock.”
“You knew him well?”
Kelly blushed. “No, not at all. We only… I mean, it was just a shag, that’s all.”
“Still…” said Annie, thinking that shagging was pretty intimate, even if there was no love involved, and that by speaking of it that way Kelly was trying to diminish what had happened so she wouldn’t feel it so painfully. If someone was naked with you one minute, caressing you, entering you and giving you pleasure, then lying on the floor with his head bashed in the next, it didn’t make you a softy if you shed a tear or two. “Care to tell me about it?”
“You mustn’t tell my dad. He’ll go spare. Promise?”
“Kelly, I’m after information about the… about Nick. Unless you were involved in some way with his murder, you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“I won’t have to go to court or anything?”
“I can’t imagine why.”
Kelly thought for a moment. “There wasn’t much to it, really,” she said finally. Then she looked at Annie. “It’s not something I do all the time, you know. I’m not a slag.”
“Nobody’s saying you are.”
“My dad would if he found out.”
“What about your mother?”
“She died when I was sixteen. Dad’s never remarried. She… they weren’t very happy together.”
“I’m sorry,” said Annie. “But there’s no reason for your father to find out.”
“As long as you promise.”
Annie hadn’t promised, and she wasn’t going to. The way things stood, she could see no reason why Kelly’s secret should come out, and she would do her best to protect it, but the situation could change. “How did it happen?” she asked.
“Like I said, he was nice. In the pub, you know. Lots of people just treat you like dirt because you’re a barmaid, but not Nick.”
“Did you know his second name?”
“No, sorry. I just called him Nick.”
The wind moaned and rocked the car. Kelly hugged herself. She wasn’t wearing much more than she had been the previous evening. “Cold?” Annie asked. “I’ll turn the heater on.” She started the car and turned the heat on. Soon the windows misted over with condensation. “That’s better. Go on. You got chatting in the pub.”
“No. That’s just it. My dad’s always there, isn’t he? He was there last night. That’s why I… anyway, he watches me like a hawk at work. He’s like the rest, thinks a barmaid’s no better than a whore. You should have heard the arguments we had about me taking the job.”
“Why did he let you take it, then?”
“Money. He was sick of me living at home and not having a job.”
“That’ll do it. So you didn’t meet Nick in the pub?”
“Well, we did meet there. I mean, that’s where we first saw each other, but he was just like any other customer. He was a fit-looking lad. I’ll admit I fancied him, and I think maybe he could see that.”
“But he wasn’t a lad, Kelly. He was much older than you.”
Kelly stiffened. “He was only thirty-eight. That’s not old. And I’m twenty-one. Besides, I like older men. They’re not always pawing you like kids my own age. They understand. They listen. And they know about things. All the kids my age talk about is football and beer, but Nick knew everything about music, all the bands, everything. The stories he told me. He was sophisticated.”
Annie made a mental note of that while wondering just how long it took this Nick to start “pawing” Kelly. “How did you meet him, then?” she asked.
“In town. Eastvale. Wednesday’s my day off, see, and I was out shopping. He was just coming out of that secondhand bookshop down by the side of the church, and I almost bumped into him. Talk about blush. Anyway, he recognized me, and we got chatting, went for a drink in the Queen’s Arms. He was funny.”
“He gave me a lift back – I’d come on the bus – and we arranged to meet later.”
“At the cottage. He invited me for a meal. I told my dad I was going out with some girlfriends.”
“And what happened?”
“What do you think? He made a meal – a curry – he wasn’t a bad cook, and we listened to some music and… you know…”
“You went to bed together.”
“Only that once?”
Kelly looked away.
“We did it again on Friday, all right? I got two hours off in the afternoon to go to the dentist but I rearranged my appointment for next Wednesday.”
“What time on Friday?”
“Between two and four.”
That was the afternoon of the murder. Only two or three hours after Kelly had left, in all likelihood, Nick had been killed. “And those were the only occasions you spent with him? Wednesday night and Friday afternoon?”
“We didn’t spend the night together. Not that I wouldn’t have, mind you. Just the evening. Had to be home by eleven. As you might have gathered, my father’s a bit of a Victorian when it comes to matters of freedom and discipline.”
Yes, and you were off shagging some older bloke you’d just laid eyes on for the first time, Annie thought. Maybe Kelly’s father had a point. Anyway, it was none of her business. She was surprised at herself for being so judgmental. “What does he do for a living?”
“He’s a farmer. Can you imagine anything more naff?”
“Plenty of things.”
“Huh. Well, I can’t.”
“Do you know someone called Jack Tanner?”
Kelly seemed surprised at the question. “Yes,” she said. “He lives just down the road from the pub.”
“What do you think of him?”
“I can say I do very much. Think of him, that is. He always seems a bit of a miserable sod, to me. And he’s a total lech as well.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s always looking at my tits. He doesn’t think I know, but it’s well obvious. He does it with all us young girls.”
“Have you ever seen him in the pub?”
“No. CC barred him before I started working there. He can’t hold his drink. He’s always picking fights.”
Annie made a note to look into Jack Tanner further and went on. “What do you remember about the cottage?”
“It just looked like a cottage. You know, old furniture and stuff, a creaky bed, toilet with a wonky seat.”
“What about Nick’s personal things?”
“You must know. You were in there.”
“Everything’s gone, Kelly.”
Kelly gave her a startled look. “Somebody stole it? Is that why they killed him? But there was hardly anything there, unless he was hiding money under the mattress, and I don’t think he was. You could have felt a pea under that thing.”
“What did he have?”
“Just a few books, a portable CD player with a couple of those small speakers you can set up. Not great sound, but okay. Mostly he liked old stuff, but he had some more modern bands: Doves, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs. And he had a computer.”
“Yes. A little one. Toshiba, I think. He said he used it used it mostly for watching DVDs, but he did do some work on it, too.”
“What kind of work?”
“He was a writer.”
“What sort of writer?”
“I don’t know. He never told me about it and I never asked. None of my business, was it? Maybe he was writing his autobiography.”
That would be a bit presumptuous at thirty-eight, Annie thought, but people had written autobiographies at earlier ages than that. “But he definitely said he was a writer?”
“I asked him what he was doing up here at such a miserable time of year, and he said he wanted a bit of peace and quiet to do some writing. I could tell he was being a bit shy and secretive about it, so I didn’t push. I wasn’t after his life story, anyway.”
“Did he ever show you anything he’d written?”
“No. I mean, all we did was have a curry, a chat and a shag. I didn’t go searching through his stuff or anything. What do you think I am?”
“All right, Kelly, don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
Kelly managed a brief smile. “Bit late for that, isn’t it?”
“What did you use for contraception?”
“Condoms. What do you think?”
“We didn’t find any in the house.”
“We used them all. On Friday, like, he wanted to, you know, do it again, but we couldn’t. There weren’t any left, and it was too late to go into Eastvale. I had to be at work. And there’s no way I was going to do it without. I’m not totally stupid.”
“Okay,” said Annie. Once she had got Kelly talking, she had proved to be far less shy and reticent than she appeared in public. So that explained the rumpled bed and lack of condoms. But robbery hardly seemed like a motive. Obviously, if Nick had had something of great value there, he wouldn’t have told some local scrubber he’d picked up in a pub, but why cart anything of value up here in the first place? Unless he was blackmailing somebody. Or making a payoff.
“Did he have a mobile?”
“He did. A fancy Nokia. Fat lot of good it did him, though. They don’t work around here. You have to go to Eastvale or Helmthorpe. It’s a real drag.”
That was a problem in the Dales, Annie knew. They’d put up some new towers, but coverage was still patchy in places because of the hills. There wasn’t a landline at the cottage – most rental places don’t include one for obvious reasons – and both Mrs. Tanner and Winsome had used the telephone box across the road, by the church. “How did he seem when you were with him?” she asked.
“He was fine.”
“He didn’t seem upset, depressed or worried about anything?”
“No, not at all.”
“What about drugs?”
Kelly paused. “We smoked a couple of joints, that’s all. I’d never do anything harder than that.”
“Did he have a lot of gear?”
“No, just enough for himself. At least that’s all I saw. Look, he wasn’t a drug dealer, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“I’m not getting at anything,” said Annie. “I just want to establish some idea of Nick’s state of mind. Was he any different on Friday afternoon?”
“No, not so’s I noticed.”
“He wasn’t nervous or edgy, as if he was expecting someone?”
“Did you make any plans for the future?”
“Well, he didn’t ask me to marry him, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
Annie laughed. “I don’t suppose he did, but were you going to see one another again?”
“Sure. He was up here for another week, and I said I could get away a few times – if he got some more condoms. He said I could come and see him in London, too, if I wanted. He gets lots of free tickets and he said he’d take me to concerts.” She pouted. “My dad would never let me go, though. He thinks London’s some sort of den of iniquity.”
“Did Nick give you his address?”
“We didn’t get that far. We thought… you know… we’d see one another again up here. Oh, shit! Sorry.” She dabbed at her face again. Crying had made her skin blotchy. Other than that, she was a beautiful young woman, and Annie could see why any man would be attracted to her. She wasn’t stupid, either, as she had pointed out, and there was a forthrightness about her attitude to sex that many might envy. But now she was just an upset and confused kid, and her skin was breaking out.
When she’d pulled herself together, she laughed and said, “You must think I’m well daft, crying over some bloke I just met.”
“No, I don’t,” said Annie. “You felt close to him, and now he’s dead. That must be terrible. It must hurt.”
Kelly looked at her. “You understand, don’t you? You’re not like the rest. Not like that sourpuss you had with you last night.”
Annie smiled at the description of Banks, not one she would have used herself. “Oh, he’s all right,” she said. “He’s just been going through a rough time lately, too.”
“No, I mean it. You’re all right, you are. What’s it like, being a copper?”
“It has its moments,” Annie said.
“Do you think they’d have me, if I applied, like?”
“I’m sure it would be worth a try,” Annie said. “We’re always looking for bright, motivated people.”
“That’s me,” Kelly said with a crooked smile. “Bright and motivated. I’m sure my dad would approve.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Annie said, thinking of what Banks had told her about the way his parents reacted to his chosen profession. “But don’t let it stop you.”
Kelly frowned, then she said, “Look, I’ve got to get to work. I’m already late. CC’ll go spare.”
“Okay,” said Annie. “I think I’m just about done for now.”
“Can you give me a minute before we go?” said Kelly, pulling down the mirror and taking a small pink container from her handbag. “I’ve got to put my face on.”
“Of course.” Annie watched with amusement while Kelly applied eye shadow and mascara and various powders and potions to hide the acne and blotchiness, then drove down the hill to drop the girl at the Cross Keys before heading back up to see what was happening at the youth hostel.
10th-12th September, 1969
Over the next few days, Chadwick’s investigation proceeded with a frustrating lack of progress. The two essential questions – who was the victim, and who was with her at the time of her death – remained unanswered. Surely, Chadwick thought, someone, somewhere, must be missing her? Unless she was a runaway.
Things had been quiet on the home front since he and Yvonne had come to their compromise. He was convinced now that she had been at the Brimleigh Festival on Sunday night – she really wasn’t a very good liar – but there seemed little point in pursuing the issue now. It was over. The important thing was to try to head off anything along the same lines in the future, and Janet was right; he wouldn’t achieve that by ranting at her.
On Wednesday, though, Chadwick had paid a quick visit to the Grove, just to see the kind of place where his daughter was spending her time. It was a small, scruffy, old-fashioned pub by the canal, with one dingy room set aside for the young crowd. He checked with his friend Geoff Broome on the drugs squad and found it didn’t have a particularly bad reputation, which was good news. God only knew what Yvonne saw in the dump.
Dr. O’Neill – whose full postmortem report had yielded nothing to dispute the cause of death – had estimated the victim’s age at between seventeen and twenty-one, so it was conceivable that she had left home and was living by herself at the time of her murder. In which case, what about her friends, boyfriends, colleagues at work? Either they didn’t know what had happened, or they hadn’t missed her yet. Did she even have a job? Hippies didn’t like work, Chadwick knew that. Perhaps she was a student, or on holiday. One interesting point that Dr. O’Neill had included in his report was that there was a parturition scar on the pelvic bone, which meant that she had given birth to a baby.
DC Bradley had viewed all the television footage of the festival and spoken with newspaper reporters who had attended the event. He had learned precisely nothing. The victim was nowhere to be seen on the film, which more often than not panned over a sea of young idealistic faces, and cut back and forth from the gymnastic displays of the bands onstage to close-shot interviews with individual musicians and revelers. Perhaps it might all be of some use in the future, when they had a suspect or needed to pick someone out of the crowd, but for the moment it was useless.
Bradley had also contacted the festival’s press officer, Mick Lawton, and made a start phoning the photographers. Most were cooperative, had no objection to the police looking at their photographs and would be happy to send prints. After all, they had been taken for public consumption in the first place. What a difference it was from asking reporters to name sources.
The experts were still combing the area where the victim had been killed and the spot she had been moved to, collecting all the trace evidence for later analysis. If nothing else, it might provide useful forensic evidence in a trial. The lab had already reported back on the painted cornflower on the victim’s cheek, informing Chadwick that it was simple greasepaint, available in any number of outlets. The flower was still one small detail the police had not yet made public.
When it came to questioning the stars themselves, Enderby’s original doubts proved to be remarkably prophetic. It got done, mostly, but in a perfunctory and unsatisfactory way as far as Chadwick was concerned, usually by the local forces who had only minimal briefing in the case. There was more than one provincial DI just dying to have a crack at his local rock star, bring in the dogs and the drugs search team, despite the fiasco of the Rolling Stones bust a couple of years ago, but asking a few questions about a poxy festival up north hardly excited anyone’s interest. These long-haired idiots might be stoned and anarchic, the thinking mostly went, but they’re hardly likely to be bloody murderers, are they?
Chadwick preferred to keep an open mind on the subject. He thought of the murders in Los Angeles, a story he had been following in the newspapers and on television, just like everyone else. According to the reports, someone had broken into a house in Benedict Canyon, cut the telephone wires and murdered five people, including the actress Sharon Tate, who had been eight and a half months pregnant at the time she was stabbed to death. Later that night, another house had been broken into and a wealthy couple had been killed in a similar way. There was much speculation about drug orgies, as the male victims had been wearing hippie-type clothing and drugs were found in one of their cars. There was also talk about a “ritualistic” aspect to the murders: the word PIG had been written in blood on the front door of Sharon Tate’s house, and DEATH TO PIGS had been written on the living room wall of the other house, also in blood, and HEALTHER SKELTER inside the fridge door, which the authorities took to be a misspelling of “Helter Skelter,” a Beatles song from The White Album. What little inside knowledge Chadwick had been able to pick up on the grapevine indicated that the police were looking for members of some obscure hippie cult.
It had not occurred to Chadwick that the crimes had anything in common with the Brimleigh Festival murder. Los Angeles was a long way from Yorkshire. Still, if people who listened to Beatles songs and called the police pigs could do something like that in Los Angeles, then why not in England?
Chadwick would have interviewed the musicians himself, but they lived as far afield as London, Buckinghamshire, Sussex, Ireland and Glasgow, some of them in small flats and bedsits, but a surprising number of them owned country estates with swimming pools or large detached houses in nice areas. He would have spent half his life on the motorway and the rest on country roads.
He had hoped that one of the interviewers might at least have sniffed out a half-truth or a full-blown lie, then he would have conducted a follow-up interview himself, however far he had to travel, but everything came back routine: no further action.
A lot of the bands whose names he had seen in connection with Brimleigh were playing at another festival, in Rugby, that weekend: Pink Floyd, the Nice, Roy Harper, the Edgar Broughton Band and the Third Ear Band. He sent Enderby down to Rugby to see if he could come up with anything. Enderby seemed in his element at the prospect of meeting such heroes.
Two of the bands at Brimleigh had been local. Chadwick had already spoken briefly with Jan Dukes de Grey in Leeds during the week. Derek and Mick seemed pleasant enough young lads beneath the long hair and unusual clothes, and both of them had left the festival well before the time of the murder. The Mad Hatters were in London at the moment but were expected back up north early in the following week, to stay at Swainsview Lodge, Lord Jessop’s residence near Eastvale, where they were to rehearse for a forthcoming tour and album. He would talk to them then.
It was half past two in the afternoon by the time DC Gavin Rickerd managed to make it over to Western Area Headquarters in Eastvale. Banks was due to sit in on the Nicholas Barber postmortem at three, but he wanted to get this out of the way first. He had rung Annie at Fordham, and they had given each other a quick update, agreeing to meet in the Queen’s Arms at six o’clock.
“Come in, Gavin,” said Banks. “How are things going in Neighborhood Policing? Teething troubles?”
“Busy. You know how things are with a new job, sir. But it’s fine, really. I like it.” Rickerd adjusted his glasses. He was still wearing old-fashioned National Health specs held together at the bridge with sticking plaster. It had to be a fashion statement of some sort, Banks thought, as even a poor DC could certainly afford new ones. The words “fashion statement” and Gavin Rickerd hardly seemed a match made in heaven, so maybe it was an antifashion statement. He wore a bottle-green corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches and brown corduroy trousers a bit worse for wear. His tie was awkwardly fastened and his shirt collar bent up on the left side. From the top pocket of his jacket poked an array of pens and pencils. His face had the pasty look of someone who didn’t get outside very much. Banks remembered the way Kev Templeton used to take the piss out of him mercilessly. He had a cruel streak, did Templeton.
“Miss the thrust and parry of policing on the edge?” Banks asked.
“Not really, sir. I’m quite happy where I am.”
“Ah, right.” Banks had never really known how to talk to Richard. Rumor had it that he was a bona fide trainspotter, that he actually stood out at the end of cold station platforms in Darlington, Leeds or York, come rain or shine, scanning the horizon for the Royal Scotsman, the Mallard, or whatever they called it these days. Nobody had actually seen him, but the rumor persisted. He also had a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and was reputed to be a whiz at puzzles and computer games. Banks thought he was probably wasted in Eastvale and should have been recruited by MI5 years ago, but at the moment their loss was his gain.
One thing Banks did know for certain was that Gavin Rickerd was a fanatical cricket fan, so he chatted briefly about England’s recent Ashes victory, then he said, “Got a little job for you, Gavin.”
“But, sir, you know I’m neighborhood Policing now, not CID or Major Crimes.”
“Yes,” said Banks. “But what’s in a name?”
“It’s not just the name, sir, it’s a serious job.”
“I’m sure it is. That’s not in dispute.”
“The superintendent won’t like it, sir.” Rickerd was starting to look decidedly nervous, glancing over his shoulder at the door.
“Been warned off, have you?”
Rickerd adjusted his glasses again.
“Okay,” Banks said. “I understand. I wouldn’t want to get you into trouble. You can go. It’s just that I’ve got this puzzle I thought you might be interested in. At least, I think it could be a puzzle. Whatever it is, though, we need to know.”
“Puzzle?” said Rickerd, licking his lips. “What sort of puzzle?”
“Well, I was thinking maybe you could have a look at it in your spare time, you know. That way the super can’t complain, can she?”
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Like a little peek?”
“Well, maybe I could just have a quick look.”
“Good lad.” Banks handed him a photocopy of the page from Nick Barber’s copy of Atonement he had got from the SOCOs.
Rickerd squinted at it, turned it this way and that, and put it down on the desk. “Interesting,” he said.
“I was thinking that you like mathematical puzzles and things, know a bit about them. Maybe you could take it away with you and play around with it?”
“I can take it away?”
“Of course. It’s only a photocopy.”
“All right, then,” said Rickerd, evidently charged with a new sense of importance. He folded the piece of paper carefully into a square and slipped it into the inside pocket of his corduroy jacket.
“You’ll get back to me?” said Banks.
“Soon as I’ve got something. I can’t promise, mind you. It might just be some random gibberish.”
“I understand,” said Banks. “Do your best.”
Rickerd left the office, pausing to glance both ways down the corridor before he dashed off toward the Neighborhood Policing offices. Banks glanced at his watch and pulled a face. Time to go to the postmortem.
Saturday, 13th September, 1969
Chadwick was hoping to get away early, as he and Geoff Broome had tickets for Leeds United’s away game with Sheffield Wednesday. At about ten o’clock, though, a woman who said she lived on the Raynville Estate rang to say she thought she recognized the victim. She didn’t want to commit herself, saying the sketch in the paper wasn’t a very good likeness, but she thought she knew who it was. Out of respect for the victim, the newspapers hadn’t published a photograph of the dead girl, only an artist’s impression, but Chadwick had a photo in his briefcase.
This wasn’t the kind of interview he could delegate to an underling like the inexperienced Simon Bradley, let alone the scruffy Keith Enderby, so before he left he rang Geoff Broome with his apologies. There would be no problem getting rid of the ticket somewhere in Brotherton House, Geoff told him. After that, Chadwick went down to his aging Vauxhall Victor and drove out to Armley, rain streaking his windscreen.
The Raynville Estate was not among the best of the newer Leeds council estates, and it looked even worse in the rain. Built only a few years ago, it had quickly gone to seed, and those who could afford to, avoided it. Chadwick and Janet had lived nearby, on the Astons, until they had managed to save up and buy their semi just off Church Road, in the shadow of St. Bartholomew’s, Armley, when Chadwick was promoted to detective inspector four years ago.
The caller, who had given her name as Carol Wilkinson, lived in a second-story maisonette on Raynville Walk. The stairs smelled of urine and the walls were covered with filthy graffiti, a phenomenon that was starting to spring up in places like this. It was just another sign of the degeneracy of modern youth as far as Chadwick was concerned: no respect for property. When he knocked on the faded green door, a young woman holding a baby in one arm opened it for him, the chain still on.
“Are you the policeman?”
“Detective Inspector Chadwick.” He showed his warrant card.
She glanced at it, then looked Chadwick up and down before unfastening the chain. “Come in. You’ll have to excuse the mess.”
And he did. She deposited the baby in a wooden playpen in a living room untidy with toys, discarded clothing and magazines. It – he couldn’t tell whether it was a girl or a boy – stood and gawped at him for a moment, then started rattling the bars and crying. The cream carpet was stained with only God knew what, and the room smelled of unwashed nappies and warm milk. A television set stood in one corner, and a radio was playing somewhere: Kenny Everett. Chadwick only knew who it was because Yvonne liked to listen to him, and he recognized the inane patter and the clumsy attempts at humor. When it came to radio, Chadwick preferred quiz programs and news.
He took the chair the woman offered, giving it a quick once-over to make sure it was clean, and plucking at the crease in his trousers before he sat. The maisonette had a small balcony, but there were no chairs outside. Chadwick imagined the woman had to be careful because of her baby. More than once a young child had crawled onto a balcony and fallen off, despite the guardrail.
Trying to distance himself from the noise, the smell and the mess, Chadwick focused on the woman as she sat down opposite him and lit a cigarette. She was pale and careworn, wearing a baggy fawn cardigan and shapeless checked slacks. Dirty blond hair hung down to her shoulders. She might have been fifteen or thirty.
“You said on the phone that you think you know the woman whose picture was in the paper?”
“I think so,” she said. “I just wasn’t sure. That’s why I took so long to ring you. I had to think about it.”
“Are you sure now?”
“Well, no, not really. I mean, her hair was different and everything. It’s just…”
“Something about her, that’s all.”
Chadwick opened his briefcase and took out the photograph of the dead girl, head and shoulders. He warned Carol what to expect, and she seemed to brace herself, drawing an exceptionally deep lungful of smoke. When she looked at the photo, she put her hand to her chest. Slowly, she let the smoke out. “I’ve never seen a dead person before,” she said.
“Do you recognize her?”
She passed the photo back and nodded. “Funnily enough, this looks more like her than the drawing, even though she is dead.”
“Do you know who she is?”
“Yes. I think it’s Linda. Linda Lofthouse.”
“How did you know her?”
“We went to school together.” She jerked her head in a generally northern direction. “Sandford Girls’. She was in the same class as me.” At least the victim was local, then, which made the investigation a lot easier. Still, it made perfect sense. While many young people would have made the pilgrimage from all parts of the country to the Brimleigh Festival, Chadwick guessed that the majority of those attending would have been from a bit closer to home – Leeds, Bradford, York, Harrogate and the surrounding areas – as the event was practically on their doorstep.
“When was this?”
“I left school two years ago last July, when I was sixteen. Linda left the same year. We were almost the same age.”
Eighteen and one kid already. Chadwick wondered if she had a husband. She wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, which didn’t mean much in itself, but there didn’t seem to be any evidence of male presence as far as he could see. Anyway, the age was about right for the victim. “Were you friends?”
Carol paused. “I thought so,” she said, “but after we’d left school we didn’t see much of one another.”
“Linda got pregnant after Christmas in her final year, just before she turned sixteen.” She looked at her own child and gave a harsh laugh. “At least I waited until I’d left school and got married.”
“He’s at work. Tom’s not a bad bloke, really.”
So she was married. In a way, Chadwick felt relieved. “I meant the father of Linda’s child.”
“Oh, him. She was going out with Donald Hughes at the time. I just assumed, you know, like…”
“Did they marry, live together?”
“Not that I know of. Linda… well, she was getting a bit weird that last year at school, if you must know.”
“In what way?”
“The way she dressed, like she didn’t care anymore. And she was more in her own world, wherever that was. She kept getting into trouble for not paying attention in class, but it wasn’t as if she was stupid or anything, she even did okay in her O levels, despite being pregnant. She was just…”
“In her own world?”
“Yes. The teachers didn’t know what to do with her. If they said anything, she’d give them a right clever answer. She had some nerve. And that last year she sort of stopped hanging around with us – you know, there were a few of us – me, Linda, Julie and Anita used to go down the Locarno on a Saturday night, have a good dance and see if there were any decent lads around.” She blushed. “Sometimes we’d go to Le Phonograph later if we could get in. Most of us could pass for eighteen, but sometimes they got a bit picky on the door. You know what it’s like.”
“So Linda became a bit of a loner?”
“Yes. And this was before she got pregnant. Quiet. Liked to read. Not schoolbooks. Poetry and stuff. And she loved Bob Dylan.”
“Didn’t the rest of you?”
“He’s all right, I suppose, but you can’t dance to him, can you? And I can’t understand a word he’s singing about, if you can call it singing.”
Chadwick didn’t know whether he had ever heard Bob Dylan, though he did know the name, so he was thankful the question was rhetorical. Dancing had never been a skill he possessed in any great measure, though he had met Janet at a dance and that had seemed to go well enough. “Did she have any enemies, anyone who really disliked her?”
“No, nothing like that. You couldn’t hate Linda. You’d know what I mean if you’d met her.”
“Did she ever get into any fights or serious disagreements with anyone?”
“Do you know if she was taking drugs?”
“She never said so, and I never saw her do anything like that. Not that I’d have known, I suppose.”
“Where did she live?”
“On the Sandford Estate with her mum and dad. Though I heard her dad died a short while ago. In the spring. Sudden, like. Heart attack.”
“Can you give me her mother’s address?”
Carol told him.
“Do you know if she had the child?”
“About two years ago.”
“That would be September 1967?”
“Around that time, yes. But I never saw her after school broke up that July. I got married and Tom and me set up house here and all. Then little Andy came along.”
“Have you ever bumped into her since then?”
“No. I heard that she’d moved away down south after the baby was born. London.”
Maybe she had, Chadwick thought. That would explain why she hadn’t been immediately missed. As Carol had said, the likeness in the newspaper wasn’t a particularly good one, and a lot of people don’t pay attention to the papers anyway. “Have you any idea what happened to the baby, or the father?”
“I’ve seen Don around. He’s been going out with Pamela Davis for about a year now. I think they might be engaged. He works in a garage on Kirkstall Road, near the viaduct. I remember Linda talking about having the baby adopted. I don’t think she planned on keeping it.”
The mother would probably know, not that it mattered. Whoever had killed Linda Lofthouse, it wasn’t a two-year-old. “Is there anything else you can tell me about Linda?” he asked.
“Not really,” said Carol. “I mean, I don’t know what you want to hear. We were best friends, but we sort of drifted apart, as you do. I don’t know what she got up to the last two years. I’m sorry to hear that she was killed, though. That’s terrible. Why would somebody do a thing like that?”
“That’s what we’re trying to find out,” said Chadwick, trying to sound as reassuring as he could. He didn’t think it came over very well. He stood up. “Thanks for your time, and for the information.”
“You’ll let me know? When you find out.”
“I’ll let you know,” said Chadwick, standing up. “Please, stay here with the baby. I’ll let myself out.”
“What’s up with you, then?” asked Cyril, the landlord of the Queen’s Arms, as Banks ordered a bitter lemon and ice late that afternoon. “Doctor’s orders?”
“More like boss’s orders,” Banks grumbled. “We’ve got a new super. She’s dead keen and seems to have eyes in the back of her bloody head.”
“She’ll get nowt out of me,” said Cyril. “My lips are sealed.”
Banks laughed. “Cheers, mate. Maybe another time.”
“Bad for business, this new boss of yours.”
“Give us time,” said Banks, with a wink. “We’ll get her trained.”
He took his glass over to a dimpled copper-topped table over by the window and contemplated its unappetizing contents gloomily. The ashtray was half full of crushed filters and ash. Banks pushed it as far away as he could. Now that he no longer smoked, he’d come to loathe the smell of cigarettes. He’d never noticed it before, as a smoker, but when he got home from the pub his clothes stank and he had to put them straight in the laundry basket. Which would be fine if he got around to doing his laundry more often.
Annie turned up at six o’clock, as arranged. She’d been at Fordham earlier, Banks knew, and had talked to Kelly Soames. She got herself a Britvic Orange and joined him. “Christ,” she said, when she saw Banks’s drink. “They’ll be thinking we’re all on the wagon.”
“Too true. Good day?”
“Not bad, I suppose. You?”
Banks swirled the liquid in his glass. Ice clinked against the sides. “I’ve had better,” he said. “Just come from the postmortem.”
“No picnic. Never is. Even after all these years you never get quite used to it.”
“I know,” said Annie.
“Anyway,” Banks went on, “we weren’t far wrong in our original suspicions. Nick Barber was in generally good health apart from being bashed on the back of the head with a poker. It fits the wound, and Dr. Glendenning says he was hit four times, once when he was standing up, which accounts for most of the blood spatter, and three times when he was on the floor.”
Annie raised an eyebrow. “Overkill?”
“Not necessarily. The doc said it needn’t have been a frenzied attack, just that whoever did it wanted to make sure his victim was dead. In all likelihood he’d have got a bit of blood on him, too, and blood’s hard to get rid of. It might give us something we can use in court if we ever catch the bastard. Anyway, there were no prints on the poker, so our killer obviously wiped it clean.”
“What do you make of it all?”
“I don’t know,” said Banks, sipping bitter lemon and pulling a face. “It certainly doesn’t look professional, and it wasn’t frenzied enough to look like a lovers’ quarrel, not that we can rule that out.”
“I doubt if the motive was robbery, either.” Annie told Banks more detail than she had given him over the phone about her conversation with Kelly Soames and what little she had discovered about Barber from her.
“And the timing is interesting,” Banks added.
“What do you mean?”
“Was he killed before or after the power cut? All the doc can tell us is that it probably happened between six and eight. One bloke left the pub at seven and came back around quarter past. The others bear this out, but nobody saw him in Lyndgarth. Banks consulted his notes. Name of Calvin Soames.”
“Soames?” said Annie. “That’s the barmaid’s name. Kelly Soames. He must be her father. I recognized him when he dropped her off.”
“That’s right,” said Banks.
“She said he’s always in the pub when she’s working. I know she was terrified of him finding out about her and Nick.”
“I’ll have a talk with him tomorrow.”
“Go carefully, Alan. He didn’t know about her and Nick Barber. Apparently he’s a very strict father.”
“That’s not such a terrible thing, is it? Anyway, I’ll do my best. But if he really did know…”
“I understand,” said Annie.
“And don’t forget Jack Tanner,” said Banks. “We don’t know what motive he might have had, but he had a connection with the victim, through his wife. We’d better check his alibi thoroughly.”
“It’s being done,” said Annie. “Ought to be easy enough to check with his darts cronies. And I’ve got Kev following up on all the blokes who left the pub between the relevant times.”
“Good. Now the tourist couple, the Browns, say they arrived at about a quarter to eight and thought they saw a car heading up the hill, right?”
Annie consulted the notes she had taken in the incident van. “Someone from the youth hostel, a New Zealander called Vanessa Napier, told PC Travers that she saw a car going by at about half past seven or a quarter to eight on Friday evening, shortly after the lights went off. She was looking out of her window at the storm.”
“Did she get any details?”
“No. It was dark, and she doesn’t know a Honda from a Fiat.”
“Doesn’t help us much, does it?”
“It’s all we’ve got. They questioned everyone in the hostel and Vanessa’s the only one who saw anything.”
“She’s not another one been shagging our Nick, too, has she?”
Annie laughed. “I shouldn’t think so.”
“Hmm,” Banks said. “There seem to have been more comings and goings between half past seven and eight than there were earlier.”
“Yorkshire Electricity confirms the power went out at seven twenty-eight p.m.”
“The problem is,” Banks went on, “that if the killer came from some distance away and timed his arrival for half seven or a quarter to eight, he can’t have known there would be a power cut, so it’s not a factor.”
“Maybe it gave him an opportunity,” Annie said. “They’re arguing, the lights go out, Nick turns to reach for his cigarette lighter and the killer seizes the moment and lashes out.”
“Possibly,” said Banks. “Though the darkness would have made it a bit harder for him to search the cottage and be certain he took away everything he needed to. Also, your eyes need time to adjust. Look at the timing. Mrs. Tanner showed up at eight. That didn’t give him much time to search in the dark and check Barber’s car.”
“He might have had a torch in his own vehicle.”
“He’d still have had to go and get it. There would’ve been no reason for him to be carrying one if he arrived before the power cut.”
“Does the electricity failure really matter, then?”
“I think we can assume that the killer would have done what he came to do anyway, and if the lights went out, that just gave him a better opportunity.”
“What about the Browns? Their timing is interesting.”
“Yes,” said Banks. “But do they strike you as the types to kill someone and then drop by the local pub for a pint?”
“It was dark. There was no electricity. Maybe the local was as good a place to hide as any.”
“What about blood?”
“Winsome checked after the lights came back on,” Annie said. “She didn’t see any signs, but they’d hardly have hung around till the lights came back on if they were hiding bloodstains. We could hardly strip-search everyone.”
“True,” said Banks. “Look, we’ve still got a long way to go. You mentioned that Nick Barber was a writer?”
“That’s what Kelly said he told her.”
“Who’d want to kill a writer?”
“There were plenty I wanted to kill when I was at school doing English,” said Annie, “but they were all dead already.”
Banks laughed. “But seriously.”
“Well, it depends what kind of writer he was, doesn’t it?” Annie argued. “I mean, if he was an investigative journalist onto something big, then someone might have had a reason to get rid of him.”
“But what was he doing up here?”
“There are plenty of cupboards full of skeletons in North Yorkshire,” countered Annie.
“Yes, but where to begin? That’s the problem.”
“Google?” suggested Annie.
“That’s a start.”
“And shouldn’t we be going to London?”
“Monday morning,” said Banks. “Then we’ll be able to talk to his employer, if we can find out who it is. You know how useless Sundays are for finding anything out. I’ve asked the locals to keep an eye on the place until then to make sure no one tries to get in.”
“What about next of kin?”
“Winsome sorted that, too. They live just outside Sheffield. They’ve already been informed. I thought you and Winsome could go and talk to them tomorrow.”
“Fine,” said Annie. “I was only going to wash my hair, anyway. Oh, there’s one more thing. About that book.”
“It looks as if he might have bought it just over the road here. Kelly said she met him coming out of the secondhand bookshop.”
Banks consulted his watch. “Damn, it’ll be closed now.”
“Is it important?”
“Could be. It didn’t look as if the figures were written in the same hand as the price, but you never know.”
“We can ring the owner at home, I suppose.”
“Good idea,” said Banks.
“From the way you’re still sitting there, I assume you’re expecting me to do it?”
“If you would. Look, I’m sick of this bloody bitter lemon. As far as I’m concerned, we’re off duty, working on our own time, and if Lady Gervaise wants to make something of it, then good luck to her. I’m having a pint. You?”
Annie smiled. “Spoken like a true rebel. I’ll have the same. And while you’re getting them in…” She took her mobile phone from her briefcase and waved it in the air.
Banks had to wait until a party of six tourists, who couldn’t make up their minds what they wanted to drink, had been served, and when he got back with two foaming pints of Black Sheep, Annie had finished. “Well, he certainly didn’t do it,” she said. “Fair bristled at the idea of anyone writing anything but the price in books, even the blank pages at the back. Sacrilege, he said. Anyway, he remembers the book. It only came in the day before Nick Barber bought it last Wednesday, and he checks them all thoroughly. There was nothing written in the back then.”
“Interesting,” said Banks. “Very interesting indeed. We’ll just have to wait and see what young Gavin makes of it, won’t we?”
Saturday, 13th September, 1969
Yvonne sat upstairs at the front of a number 16 bus heading for the city center chewing on her fingernails and wondering what to do. Some clever sod had taken a marker to the NO SPITTING sign and altered it to read NO SHITTING. Yvonne lit a cigarette and pondered her dilemma. If she was right, it could be serious.
It had happened the previous evening, when her father came home late from work, as usual. He’d been taking something out of his briefcase when a photograph had slipped to the floor. He’d put it back quickly and obviously thought she hadn’t seen it, but she had. It was a picture of the dead girl, the one who had been stabbed on Sunday at the Brimleigh Festival, and with a shock, Yvonne had realized she recognized her: Linda.
She didn’t know Linda well, had only met her once and hadn’t really talked with her much. But the local hippie community was small enough that if you hung around the right places for long enough, you’d come across pretty much everyone in the scene eventually, whether at the Grove, the Adelphi, the Peel or one of the student pubs on Woodhouse Lane, in Hyde Park or Headingley. Even as far away as the Farmer’s Inn, where they had blues bands like Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Free and Jethro Tull on a Sunday night. You could also be damn sure that they’d all beg, borrow or steal to get to an event with a lineup like the Brimleigh Festival. So, when you thought about it, Linda being there wasn’t quite so much a coincidence as it appeared on the surface. The thing was, you didn’t expect to get killed there; it was supposed to be a peaceful event, a gathering of the tribes and a celebration of unity.
The bus lumbered down Tong Road, past the Lyric, which was advertising a double bill of last year’s Carry On Up the Khyber and Carry On Camping. What crap, Yvonne thought. It was a gray day, and light rain pattered against the windows. Rows of grim back-to-back terraces sloped up the hill toward Hall Lane, all dark slate roofs and dirty red brick. A couple of kids got on at the junction with Wellington Road, behind the Crown, by the flats, and took the other front seat.
They’d filmed part of Billy Liar there a few years ago, Yvonne remembered, while it was a wasteland of demolished houses before the flats were built. Yvonne had been about eight, and her father had brought her down to watch. She had ended up in one of the crowd scenes waving a little flag as Tom Courtenay drove through in his tank, but when she had watched the film, she couldn’t see herself anywhere.
The kids lit cigarettes, kept looking over at her and making cheeky remarks. Yvonne ignored them.
She had met Linda at Bayswater Terrace one evening during the summer holidays. She had got the impression that it was just a flying visit, that Linda used to live there for a while but had moved to London. Linda was really fantastic, she remembered. She actually knew some of the bands and hung around with lots of rock stars at clubs and other “in” places. She wasn’t a groupie – she made that clear – she just liked the music and the guys who played it. Yvonne remembered someone saying that one of the members of the Mad Hatters was Linda’s cousin, but she couldn’t remember which one.
Linda even played a bit of guitar herself. She had sat down that evening with an acoustic and played “As Tears Go By” and “Both Sides Now.” Not a bad voice, either, Yvonne had thought, a little in awe of her and that sort of luminous haze her long blond hair and the long white dress she wore created around her pale features. The guys were all in love with her, you could tell, but she wasn’t interested in any of them. Linda didn’t belong to anyone. She was her own person. She also had a great throaty laugh, which surprised Yvonne, coming from one who looked so demure, like Marianne Faithfull.
McGarrity had been there that night, Yvonne remembered, and even he had seemed subdued, keeping his knife in his pocket for once and refraining from muttering T. S. Eliot all evening. The guy they said was organizing the Brimleigh Festival, Rick Hayes, had also been present, which was how they managed to score some free tickets. He knew Linda from down in London and seemed to know Dennis, too, whose house it was. Yvonne hadn’t liked Hayes. He had tried to get her to go upstairs with him and got a bit stroppy when she wouldn’t.
That was the only time Yvonne and Linda had met, and they hadn’t talked much, but Linda had made an impression. Yvonne was waiting for her O-level results, and Linda had said something about exams not proving anything and the real truth of what you were was inside you. That made sense to Yvonne. Now Linda was dead. Stabbed. Yvonne felt tears prick her eyes. She could hardly believe it. One of her own. She hadn’t seen her during the festival, but that wasn’t surprising.
The bus carried on past the gasworks, over the canal and river and past the huge building site where they were putting up the new Yorkshire Post building at the corner of Wellington Street, then past the dark, high Victorian buildings to City Square, where Yvonne got off. There were a couple of new boutiques she wanted to visit and that little record shop down the ginnel off Albion Street might still have a copy of the Blind Faith LP. Her parents hadn’t let her go to the free concert in London’s Hyde Park last June, but at least she could enjoy the music on record. Later she was going over to Carberry Place to meet up with Steve and have a few tokes. A bunch of them were going to the Peel that night to see Jan Dukes de Grey. Derek and Mick were quite the local celebrities and they were like real people; they’d talk to you and sign their first LP cover, Sorcerers, not hide away backstage like rock stars.
Yvonne’s problem persisted, though: whether or not to tell her father about Linda. If she did, the police would be at Bayswater Terrace like a shot. Maybe Dennis and Martin and Julie and the others would get busted. And it would be her fault. If they found out, they’d never speak to her again. She was sure that none of them could have had anything to do with what happened to Linda, so why bring grief on them? Rick Hayes was a creep and McGarrity was weird, but neither of them would kill one of their own. How could knowing about Linda being at Bayswater Terrace in July possibly help the police investigation? Her father would find out who Linda was eventually – he was good at finding things out – but it wouldn’t be from her, and nobody would be able to blame her for what happened.
That was what she decided in the end, turning the corner into the wet cobbled ginnel; she would keep it to herself. There was no way she was going to the pigs, even if the chief pig was her father.
There were some advantages to being a DCI, Banks thought on Sunday morning as he lingered over a second cup of coffee in the conservatory and read his way through the Sunday papers. Outside, the wind had dropped over the past couple of hours, the sun was shining and the weather had turned a little milder, though there was an unmistakable edge of autumn in the air – the smell of the musty leaves and a whiff of acrid smoke from a distant peat fire.
He was still senior investigating officer, of course, and in a short while he would go to interview Calvin Soames. At some point he would also drop by at the station and the incident van to make his presence felt and get up-to-date with developments, if there were any. In an investigation like this, he could never be far away from the action for any length of time, but the team had enough to occupy itself for the moment, and the SOCOs had plenty of trace evidence to sift through. He was always only a phone call away, so barring a major breakthrough, there was no reason for him to appear at the office at the crack of dawn every day; he would only get lumbered with paperwork. First thing tomorrow morning, he and Annie would be on the train to London, and perhaps there they would find out more about Nick Barber. All Annie had been able to find out on Google was that he had written for MOJO magazine and had penned a couple of quickie rock star biographies. It was interesting, and Banks thought he recognized the name now he saw it in context, but it still wasn’t much to go on.
Just as Banks thought it was time to tidy up and set off for Soames’s farm, he heard a knock at the door. It couldn’t be Annie, he thought, because she had gone to see Nick Barber’s parents near Sheffield. Puzzled, he ambled through to the front room and answered it. He was stunned to see his son, Brian, standing there.
“Oh, great, Dad, you’re in.”
“So it would appear,” said Banks. “You didn’t ring.”
“Battery’s dead and the car charger’s fucked. Sorry. It is okay, isn’t it?”
“Of course,” Banks said, smiling, putting his hand on Brian’s shoulder and stepping back. “Come on in. It’s always good to see you.”
Banks heard rather than saw a movement behind Brian, then a young woman came into view. “This is Emilia,” said Brian. “Emilia, my dad.”
“Hi, Mr. Banks,” said Emilia, holding out a soft hand with long, tapered fingers and a bangled wrist. “It’s really nice to meet you.”
“Can we bring the stuff in from the car?” Brian asked.
Still puzzled by it all, Banks just said okay and stood there while Brian and Emilia pulled a couple of hold-alls from the boot of a red Honda that looked as if it had seen better days, then walked back to the cottage.
“We’re going to stay for a few days, if that’s okay with you,” Brian said, as Banks gestured them into the cottage. “Only I’ve got some time off before rehearsals for the next tour, and Emilia’s never been to the Dales before. I thought I’d show her around. We’ll do a bit of walking – you know, country stuff.”
Brian and Emilia put their bags down, then Brian took his mobile phone from his pocket and searched for the lead in the side pouch of his holdall. “Okay if I charge up the phone?” he asked.
“Of course,” said Banks, pointing to the nearest plug socket. “Can I get you something?” He looked at his watch. “I have to go out soon, but we could have some coffee first.”
“Great. Coffee’s fine,” said Brian.
Emilia nodded in agreement. She looked terribly familiar, Banks thought.
“Come through to the conservatory, then,” said Banks.
“Conservatory. Lah-di-dah,” said Brian.
“Enough of your lip,” Banks joked. “There’s something very relaxing about conservatories. They’re like a sort of escape from the real world.”
But Brian was already poking his nose into the entertainment room. “Jesus Christ!” he said. “Look at this stuff. Is this what you told me you got from Uncle Roy?”
“Yes,” said Banks. “Your grandparents didn’t want it, so…”
“Fantastic,” said Brian. “I mean, it’s sad about Uncle Roy and all, but look at that plasma screen, all those movies. That Porsche out there is yours, too, isn’t it?”
“It was Roy’s, yes,” said Banks, feeling a bit guilty about it all now. He left Brian and Emilia nosing around the growing CD collection and headed for the kitchen, where he put the coffeemaker on. Then he picked up the scattered newspapers in the conservatory and set them aside on a spare chair. Brian and Emilia came through via the doors from the entertainment room. “I wouldn’t have had you down for a Streets fan, Dad,” he said.
“Just shows how little you know me,” said Banks.
“Yeah, but hip-hop?”
“Research,” said Banks. “Have to get to know the criminal mind, don’t I? Besides, it’s not really hip-hop, is it? And the kid tells a great story. Sit down, both of you. I’ll fetch the coffee. Milk? Sugar?”
They both said yes. Banks brought the coffee and sat on his usual white wicker chair opposite Brian and Emilia. He knew it was unlikely – Brian was in his twenties, after all – but his son seemed to have grown another couple of inches since he had last seen him. He was about six foot two and skinny, wearing a green T-shirt with the band’s logo, the Blue Lamps, and cream cargos. He had also had his hair cut really short and gelled. Banks thought it made him look older, which in turn made Banks feel older.
Emilia looked like a model. Only a couple of inches shorter than Brian, slender as a reed, wearing tight blue low-rise jeans and a skimpy belly-top, with the requisite wide gap between the two, and a green jewel gracing her navel, she moved with languorous grace and economy. Her streaky brown-blond hair hung over her shoulders and halfway down her back, framing and almost obscuring an oval face with an exquisite complexion, full lips, small nose and high cheekbones. Her violet eyes were unnaturally bright, but Banks suspected contact lenses rather than drugs. He’d seen her somewhere before; he knew it. “It really is good to see you again,” he said to Brian, “and nice to meet you, Emilia. I’m sorry you caught me unawares.”
“Don’t tell me, there’s no food in the house?” Brian said. “Or worse, no booze?”
“There’s wine, and a few cans of beer. But that’s about it. Oh, there’s also some leftover vegetarian lasagna.”
“You’ve gone veggie?”
“No. Annie was over the other evening.”
“Aha,” said Brian. “You two an item again?”
Banks felt himself redden. “Don’t be cheeky. And no, we’re not. Can’t a couple of colleagues have a quiet dinner together?”
Brian held his hands up, grinning. “Okay. Okay.”
“Why don’t we eat out later? Pub lunch, if I can make it. If not, dinner. On me.”
“Okay,” said Brian. “That all right with you, Emmy?”
“Of course,” said Emilia. “I can hardly wait to try some of this famous Yorkshire pudding.”
“You’ve never had Yorkshire pudding before?” said Banks.
Emilia blushed. “I’ve led a sheltered life.”
“Well, I think that can be arranged,” said Banks. He glanced at his watch. “Right now, I’d better be off. I’ll phone.”
“Cool,” said Brian. “Can you tell us which room we can have and we’ll take our stuff up while you’re out?”
Saturday, 13th September, 1969
The Sandford Estate was older than the Raynville, and it hadn’t improved with age. Mrs. Lofthouse lived right at the heart of things in a semidetached house with a postage-stamp garden and a privet hedge. Across the street, a rusty Hillman Minx without tires was parked on a neighbor’s overgrown lawn, and three windows were boarded up in the house next door. It was that kind of estate.
Mrs. Lofthouse, though, had done as much as she could to brighten the place up with a vase of chrysanthemums on the windowsill and a colorful painting of a Cornish fishing village over the mantelpiece. She was a small, slight woman in her early forties, her dyed-brown hair recently permed. Chadwick could still read the grief in the lines around her eyes and mouth. She had just lost her husband, and now he was here to burden her with the death of her daughter.
“It’s a nice house you have,” said Chadwick, sitting on the flower-patterned armchair with lace antimacassars.
“Thank you,” said Mrs. Lofthouse. “It’s a rough estate, but I do my best. And there are some good people here. Anyway, now Jim’s gone I don’t need all this room. I’ve put my name down for a bungalow out Sherbourne in-Elmet way.”
“That should be a bit quieter.”
“It’s about Linda, isn’t it?”
Mrs. Lofthouse bit her lip. “I saw the sketch in the paper. Ever since then I just… I’ve been denying it, convincing myself it’s not her, it’s a mistake, but it is her, isn’t it?” Her accent was noticeably Yorkshire, but not as broad as Carol Wilkinson’s.
“We think so.” Chadwick slipped the photograph from his briefcase. “I’m afraid this won’t be very pleasant,” he said, “but it is important.” He showed her the photograph. “Is this Linda?”
After a sharp intake of breath, Mrs. Lofthouse said, “Yes.”
“You’ll have to make a formal identification down at the mortuary.”
“I’m afraid so. We’ll make it as easy for you as we can, though. Please don’t worry.”
“When can I… you know, the funeral?”
“Soon,” said Chadwick. “As soon as the coroner releases the body for burial. I’ll let you know. I’m very sorry, Mrs. Lofthouse, but I do have to ask you some questions. The sooner the better.”
“Of course. I’ll be all right. And it’s Margaret, please. Look, shall I make some tea? Would that be okay?”
“I could do with a cuppa right now,” said Chadwick with a smile.
“Won’t be a moment.”
Margaret Lofthouse disappeared into the kitchen, no doubt to give private expression to her grief as she boiled the kettle and filled the teapot in the time-honored, comforting ritual. A clock ticked on the mantel beside a framed photograph. Twenty-five to one. Broome and his pal would be well on their way to Sheffield by now, if they weren’t there already. Chadwick got up to examine the photograph. It showed a younger Margaret Lofthouse, and the man beside her with his arm around her waist was no doubt her husband. Also in the picture, which looked as if it had been taken outside in the country, was a young girl with short blond hair staring into the camera.
Margaret Lofthouse came back with a tray and caught him looking. “That was taken at Garstang Farm, near Hawes, in Wensleydale,” she said. “We used to go for summer holidays up there a few years ago, when Linda was little. My uncle owned the place. He’s dead now and strangers have bought it, but I have some wonderful memories. Linda was such a beautiful child.”
Chadwick watched the tears well up in her eyes. She dabbed at them with a tissue. “Sorry,” she said. “I just get all choked up when I remember how things were, when we were a happy family.”
“I understand,” said Chadwick. “What happened?”
Margaret Lofthouse didn’t seem surprised at the question. “What always seems to happen these days,” she said, with a sniffle. “She grew up into a teenager. They expect the world at the age of sixteen these days, don’t they? Well, what she got was a baby.”
“What did she do with the child?”
“Put him up for adoption – it’s a boy – what else could she do? She couldn’t look after him, and Jim and I were too old to start caring for another child. I’m sure he’s gone to a good home.”
“I’m sure,” agreed Chadwick. “But it’s not the baby I’m here to talk about, it’s Linda.”
“Yes, of course. Milk and sugar?”
She poured tea from a Royal Doulton teapot into fragile-looking cups with gold-painted rims and handles. “This was my grandmother’s tea set,” she said. “It’s the only real thing of value I own. There’s nobody left to pass it on to now. Linda was an only child.”
“When did she leave home?”
“Shortly after the baby was born. The winter of 1967.”
“Where did she go?”
“London. At least that’s what she told me.”
“Where in London?”
“I don’t know. She never said.”
“You didn’t have her address?”
“Did she know people down there?”
“She must have done, mustn’t she? But I never met or heard of any of them.”
“Did she never come back and visit you?”
“Yes. Several times. We were quite friendly, but in a distant sort of way. She never talked about her life down there, just assured me she was all right and not to worry, and I must say, she always looked all right. I mean, she was clean and sober and nicely dressed, if you can call them sort of clothes nice, and she looked well fed.”
“Yes. Long, flowing dresses. Bell-bottomed jeans with flowers embroidered on them. That sort of thing. But as I said, they was always clean and they always looked good quality.”
“Do you know how she earned a living?”
“I have no idea.”
“What did you talk about?”
“She told me about London, the parks, the buildings, the art galleries – I’ve never been there, you see. She was interested in art and music and poetry. She said all she wanted was peace in the world and for people to just be happy.” She reached for the tissues again.
“So you got along okay?”
“Fine, I suppose. On the surface. She knew I disapproved of her life, even though I didn’t know much about it. She talked about Buddhism and Hindus and Sufis and goodness knows what, but she never once mentioned our true Lord Jesus Christ, and I brought her up to be a good Christian.” She gave a little shake of her head. “I don’t know. Maybe I could have tried harder to understand. She just seemed so far away from me and anything I’ve ever believed in.”
“What did you talk to her about?”
“Just local gossip, what her old school friends were up to, that sort of thing. She never stopped long.”
“Did you know any of her friends?”
“I knew all the kids she played with around the estate, and her friends from school, but I don’t know who she spent her time with after she left home.”
“She never mentioned any names?”
“Well, she might have done, but I don’t remember any.”
“Did she ever tell you if anything or anyone was bothering her?”
“No. She always seemed happy, as if she hadn’t really a care in the world.”
“You don’t know of any enemies she might have had?”
“No. I can’t imagine her having any.”
“When did you last see her?”
“In the summer. July, it would be, not long after Jim…”
“Was she at the funeral?”
“Oh, yes. She came home for that in May. She loved her father. She was a great support. I don’t want to give you the impression that we’d fallen out or anything, Mr. Chadwick. I still loved Linda and I know that she still loved me. It was just that we couldn’t really talk anymore, not about anything important. She’d got secretive. In the end I gave up trying. But this was a couple of months after Jim’s death, just a flying visit to see how I was getting along.”
“What did she talk about on that visit?”
“We watched that man walk on the moon. Neil Armstrong. Linda was all excited about it, said it marked the beginning of a new age, but I don’t know. We stayed up watching till after three in the morning.”
“I’m sorry. Nothing else really stood out, except the moon landing. Some pop star she liked had died and she’d been to see the Rolling Stones play a free concert for him in Hyde Park. London, that is. And I remember her talking about the war. Vietnam. About how immoral it was. She always talked about the war. I tried to tell her that sometimes wars just have to be fought, but she’d have none of it. To her all war was evil. You should have heard it when Linda and her dad went at it – he was in the navy in the last war, just toward the end, like.”
“But you say Linda loved her father?”
“Oh, yes. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say they saw eye to eye about everything. I mean, he tried to discipline her, got on at her for staying out till all hours, but she was a handful. They fought like cat and dog sometimes, but they still loved one another.”
It all sounded so familiar to Chadwick that the thought depressed him. Surely all children weren’t like this, didn’t cause their parents such grief? Was he taking the wrong approach with Yvonne? Was there another way? He felt like such a failure as a parent, but short of locking her in her room, what could he do? When Yvonne went on about the evils of war, he always felt himself tense up inside; he could never even enter into a rational argument about it for fear he would lose his temper, lash out and say something he would regret. What did she know about war? Evil? Yes. Necessary? Well, how else were you going to stop someone like Hitler? He didn’t know much about Vietnam, but he assumed the Americans were there for a good reason, and the sight of all these unruly long-haired youngsters burning the flag and chanting antiwar slogans made his blood boil.
“What about the boyfriend, Donald Hughes?”
“What about him?”
“Is he the father?”
“I assume so. I mean, that’s what Linda said, and I think I know her well enough to know she wasn’t… you know… some sort of trollop.”
“What did you think of him?”
“He’s all right, I suppose. Not much gumption, mind you. The Hugheses aren’t exactly one of the best families on the estate, but they’re not one of the worst, either. And you can’t blame poor Eileen Hughes. She’s had six kids to bring up, mostly on her own. She tries hard.”
“Do you know if Donald kept in touch after Linda left?”
“I doubt it. He made himself scarce after he found out our Linda was pregnant, then just after the baby was born he became all concerned for a while, said they should get married and keep it, that it wouldn’t be right to give his child up for adoption. That’s how he put it. His child.”
“What did Linda say?”
“She gave him his marching orders, then not long after that, she was gone herself.”
“Do you know if he ever bothered her at all?”
“I don’t think so. She never said, never even mentioned him or the baby again.”
“Did he ever come here after that, asking about her?”
“Just once, about three weeks after she’d left. Wanted to know her address.”
“What did you tell him?”
“That I didn’t know. Of course he didn’t believe me, and he made a bit of a fuss on the doorstep.”
“What did you do?”
“I sent him packing. Told him I’d set Jim on him if he came back again, and shut the door in his face. He left us alone after that. Surely you don’t think Donald could have…?”
“We don’t know what to think yet, Mrs. Lofthouse. We have to look at all possibilities.”
“He’s a bit of a hothead, anyone will tell you that, but I very much doubt that he’s a murderer.” She dabbed at her eyes again. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I still can’t seem to take it in.”
“I understand,” said Chadwick. “Is there anyone you’d like me to get to stay with you? Relative? Neighbor?”
“Mrs. Bennett next door. She’s always been a good friend. She’s a widow, like me. She understands what it feels like.”
Chadwick stood up to leave. “I’ll let her know you want her to come over. Look, before I go, do you have a recent photograph of Linda I could borrow?”
“I might have,” she said. “Just a minute.” She went over to the sideboard and started rummaging through one of the drawers. “This was taken last year, when she came home for her birthday. Her father was a bit of an amateur photographer.”
She handed Chadwick the color photograph. It was the girl in the sleeping bag, only she was alive, a half-smile on her lips, a faraway look in her big blue eyes, wavy blond hair tumbling over her shoulders. “Thank you,” he said. “I’ll let you have it back.”
“And you’ll keep in touch, won’t you? About the arrangements.”
“Of course. I’ll also send someone to drive you to the hospital and back to make the formal identification.”
“Thank you,” she said, and stood with him at the door, holding a damp tissue to her eyes. “How can something like this happen to me, Mr. Chadwick?” she said. “I’ve been a devout Christian woman all my life. I’ve never hurt a soul and I’ve always served the Lord to the best of my ability. How can He do this to me? A husband and a daughter, both in the same year?”
All Chadwick could do was shake his head. “I don’t know,” he said. “I wish I knew the answer.”
“Just outside Sheffield” turned out to be a quaint village on the edge of the Peak District National Park, and the house was a detached limestone cottage with a fair-sized and well-tended garden, central door, symmetrical up and down mullioned windows, garage and outbuildings. In the Dales, Annie guessed, it would be valued at about half a million pounds these days, but she had no idea what prices were like in the Peak District. Probably not much different. There were many similarities between the two areas, with their limestone hills and valleys, and both drew hordes of tourists, ramblers and climbers almost year-round.
Winsome parked by the gate and they made their way down the garden path. A few birds twittered in the nearby trees, completing the rural idyll. The woman who opened the door to them had clearly been crying. Annie felt grateful she hadn’t been the one to break the news. She hated that. The last time she had told someone about the death of a friend, the woman had actually fainted.
“Annie Cabbot and Winsome Jackman from North Yorkshire Major Crimes,” she said.
“Yes, come in,” said the woman. “We’ve been expecting you.” If the sight of a six-foot black woman surprised her at all, she didn’t show it. Like many others, she no doubt watched crime programs on TV and had got used to the idea of a multiracial police force, even in such a “white” enclave as the Peaks.
She led them through a dim hallway where coats hung on pegs and boots and shoes were neatly aligned on a low slatted rack, then into an airy living room with French windows that led to the back garden, a neatly manicured lawn with stone birdbath, white plastic table and chairs and herbaceous borders. Plane trees framed a magnificent view over the fields to the limestone peaks beyond. The sky was mostly light gray, with a hint of sun hiding behind clouds somewhere in the north.
“We’ve just got back from church,” the woman said. “We go every week, and it seemed especially important today.”
“Of course,” said Annie, whose religious background had been agnostic, and whose own spiritual dabbling in yoga and meditation had never led her to any sort of organized religion. “We’re very sorry about your son, Mrs. Barber.”
“Please,” she said. “Call me Louise. My husband, Ross, is making some tea. I hope that will be all right?”
“That’ll be perfect,” said Annie.
“You’d better sit down.”
The chintz-covered armchairs all had spotless lace antimacassars, and Annie sat carefully, not quite daring to let the back of her head touch the material. In a few moments a tall, rangy man with unruly white hair, wearing a gray V-neck pullover and baggy cords, brought in a tray and placed it on the low glass table between the chairs and the fireplace. He looked a bit like a sort of mad scientist character who could do complex equations in his head but had trouble fastening his shoelaces. Annie admired the framed print of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte over the mantelpiece.
Once tea had been served, and everyone was settled, Winsome took out her notebook and Annie began. “I know this is a difficult time for you, but anything you can tell us about your son would be helpful right now.”
“Do you have any suspects?” Mr. Barber asked.
“I’m afraid not. It’s early days yet. We’re just trying to piece together what happened.”
“I can’t imagine why anyone would want to harm our Nicholas. He was harmless. He wouldn’t have hurt a fly.”
“It’s often the innocent who suffer,” said Annie.
“But Nicholas…” He let the sentence trail off.
“Did he have any enemies?”
Ross and Louise Barber looked at one another. “No,” Louise said. “I mean, he never mentioned anyone. And like Ross says, he was a gentle person. He loved his music and his books and his films. And his writing, of course.”
“He wasn’t married, was he?” They had not been able to find a record of a wife, but Annie thought it best to make sure. If a jealous wife had caught wind of what Barber was up to with Kelly Soames, she might easily have lost it.
“No. He was engaged once, ten years ago,” said Ross Barber. “Nice girl. Local. But they drifted apart when he moved to London. More tea?”
Annie and Winsome said yes, please. Barber topped up their cups.
“We understand that your son was a music journalist?” Annie went on.
“Yes,” said Louise. “It was what he always wanted. Even when he was at school, he was editor of the magazine, and he wrote most of the articles himself.”
“We found out from the Internet that he’s done some articles for MOJO and written a couple of biographies. Can you tell us anything else about his work? Did he write for anyone in particular, for example?”
“No. He was a freelancer,” Ross Barber answered. “He did some writing for the newspapers, reviews and such, and feature pieces for that magazine sometimes, as you said. I’m afraid that sort of music isn’t exactly to my taste.” He smiled indulgently. “But he loved it, and apparently he made a decent living.”
Annie liked pop music, but she hadn’t heard of MOJO, though she knew she must have seen it in W. H. Smith’s when she was picking up Now, Star or Heat, the trashy celebrity gossip magazines she liked to read in the bath, her one secret vice. “You didn’t approve of your son’s interest in rock music?” she asked.
“It’s not that we’re against it, or anything, you understand,” said Ross Barber. “We’ve just always been a bit more inclined toward classical – Louise sings with the local operatic society – but we’re happy that Nicholas seemed to pick up a love of music at a very early age, along with the writing. He loves classical music, too, of course, but writing about rock was how he made his living.”
“He was lucky, then,” said Annie. “Being able to combine his two loves.”
“Yes,” Louise agreed, wiping away a tear with a lacy handkerchief.
“Do you have any copies of his articles? You must be proud of him. A scrapbook, perhaps?”
“I’m afraid not,” said Louise. “It never really entered our heads, did it, darling?”
Her husband agreed. “It wouldn’t mean anything to us, you see, what he was writing about. The names. The records. We would never have heard of any of them.”
Annie wanted to tell them that wasn’t the point, but it would clearly do no good. “How long has he been doing this for a living?” she asked.
“About eight years now,” Ross answered.
“And before that?”
“He got a BA in English at Nottingham, then he did an MA in film studies, I think, at Leicester. After that he did a bit of teaching and wrote reviews, then he got a feature accepted, and after that…”
“He never studied journalism?”
“No. I suppose you might say he got in through the back door.”
“What’s your profession, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I was a university professor,” said Ross Barber. “Classics and Ancient History. Rather dull, I’m afraid. I’m retired now, mind you.”
Annie was trying frantically to puzzle out why anyone would want to kill a music journalist, but she couldn’t come up with anything. Except drugs. Kelly Soames had said that she and Nick smoked a joint, but that meant nothing. Annie had smoked a few joints in her time, even while she was a copper. Even Banks had smoked joints. She wondered about Winsome and Kev Templeton. Kev’s drug of choice was probably E washed down with liberal amounts of Red Bull, but she didn’t know about Winsome. She seemed a clean-living girl, with her passion for the outdoors, and for potholing, but surely there had to be something. Anyway, it didn’t help very much knowing that Nick Barber smoked marijuana occasionally. She imagined it was par for the course in the rock business, whichever end of it you were in.
“Can you tell us anything about Nick’s life?” she asked. “We have so little to go on.”
“I can’t see how any of it would help you,” said Louise, “but we’ll do our best.”
“Did you see him often?”
“You know what it’s like when they leave home,” Louise said. “They phone and visit when they can. Our Nick was no better or worse than anyone else in that regard, I shouldn’t think.”
“So he was in touch regularly?”
“He phoned us once a week and tried to drop by whenever he could.”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
Her eyes filled with tears again. “Just the week before last. Friday. He was on his way up to Yorkshire, and he stopped over for the night. We always keep his old room ready for him, just in case.”
“Was there anything different about him?”
“Different? What do you mean?”
“Did he seem fearful in any way?”
“No, not at all.”
“Was he depressed about anything?”
The Barbers looked at one another, then Louise replied. “No. Maybe a little preoccupied, but certainly not depressed. He seemed quite cheerful, as a matter of fact. Nick was never the most demonstrative of children, but he was generally even-tempered. He was no different this time from any other time he called by.”
“He wasn’t anxious about anything?”
“Not as far as we could tell. If anything, he was a bit more excited than usual.”
“Excited? About what?”
“He didn’t say. I think it might have been a story he was working on.”
“What was it about?”
“He never told us details like that. Not that we weren’t interested in his work, but I think he realized it would mean nothing to us. Besides, it was probably a ‘scoop.’ He’d learned to become secretive in his business.”
“Even from you?”
“The walls have ears. He’d developed an instinct. I don’t think it really mattered to whom he was talking.”
“So he didn’t mention any names?”
“No. I’m sorry.”
“Did he tell you why he was going to Yorkshire?”
“He said he’d found what sounded like a quiet place to write, and I think there was someone he wanted to see who lives up there.”
Mrs. Barber spread her hands. “I’m sorry. But I got the impression it was to do with what he was working on.”
Annie cursed under her breath. If only Nick had named names. If he’d thought his parents had the least interest in his passion, then he probably would have, despite his journalistic instinct to protect his scoop. “Is that what he was excited about?”
“I think so.”
“Can you add anything, Mr. Barber?”
Ross Barber shook his head. “No. As Louise said, the names of these groups and singers mean nothing to us. I think he’d learned there was no point in mentioning them. I’m afraid I glaze over in discussions like that. No doubt members of his own generation would be very impressed, but they went right over our heads.”
“I can understand that,” said Annie. “What do you know about Nick’s life in London?”
“He had a nice flat,” said Louise. “Didn’t he, Ross? Just off the Great West Road. We stayed there not so long ago on our way to Heathrow. He slept on the sofa and let us have his bedroom. Spotless, it was.”
“He didn’t live or share with anyone?”
“No. It was all his own.”
“Did you meet a girlfriend or a close friend? Anyone?”
“No. He took us out for dinner somewhere in the West End. The next day we flew to New York. Ross and I have old friends there, and they invited us for our fortieth wedding anniversary.”
“That’s nice,” said Annie. “So you don’t really know much at all about Nick’s life in London?”
“I think he worked all the hours God sent. He didn’t have time for girlfriends and relationships and that sort of thing. I’m sure he would have settled down eventually.”
In Annie’s admittedly limited experience, if someone had reached the age of thirty-eight without “settling down,” you were a fool if you held your breath and waited for him to do so, but she also knew that many more people were holding off committing to relationships for much longer these days, herself included. “I know this is a rather delicate question,” Annie asked, “and I don’t want it to upset you, but did Nick ever have anything to do with drugs?”
“Well,” said Ross, “we assumed he experimented, of course, like so many young people today, but we never saw him under the influence of anything more than a couple of pints of bitter, or perhaps a small whiskey. We’re fairly liberal about things like that. I mean, you can’t teach in a university for as long as I did and not have some knowledge of marijuana. But if he did use drugs at all, they didn’t interfere with his job or his health, and we certainly never noticed any signs, did we?”
“No,” Louise agreed.
It was a fair answer, if not entirely what Annie had expected. She sensed that Ross Barber was being as honest as he could be. The Barbers clearly loved their son and were distraught over his death, but there seemed to have been some sort of communication gap between them. They were proud of his achievements, but not interested in the actual achievements themselves. Nick might well have interviewed Coldplay or Oasis, but Annie could just imagine Ross Barber saying, “That’s very nice, son,” as he pored over his ancient tomes. She couldn’t think of anything else to ask and glanced over at Winsome, who shrugged. Perhaps Banks would have done better; perhaps she wasn’t asking the right questions, but she couldn’t think of any more. They would have a quick look in Nick’s room, just in case he had left anything of interest, then maybe catch a pub lunch somewhere on the way back. After that, Annie would check in at the incident van and give Banks a ring. He’d want to know what she had found out, no matter how little it was.
Saturday, 13th September, 1969
The young man in the greasy overalls was standing with a spanner in his hand surrounded by pieces of a dismantled motorbike when Chadwick arrived at the garage later that afternoon. According to the car radio, Leeds were one nil up.
“Vincent Black Lightning, 1952,” the young man said. “Lovely machine. How can I help you?”
Chadwick showed his warrant card. “Are you Donald Hughes?”
Hughes immediately looked cagey, put down the spanner and wiped his hands on his greasy overalls. “Maybe,” he said. “Depends why you want to know.”
Chadwick’s immediate inclination was to tell the kid to stop messing about and come up with some answers, but he realized that Hughes might not know yet about Linda’s murder, and that his reaction to the news could reveal a lot. Perhaps a softer approach would be best, then, at least to start with.
“Maybe you’d better sit down, laddie,” he said.
There were two fold-up chairs in the garage. Instead of answering, Chadwick sat on one. A little dazed, Hughes followed suit. The dim garage smelled of oil, petrol and warm metal. It was still raining outside and he could hear the steady dripping of water from the gutters.
“What is it?” Hughes asked. “Has something happened to Mum?”
“Not as far as I know,” said Chadwick. “Read the papers much?”
“Nah. Nothing but bad news.”
“Hear about the festival up at Brimleigh Glen last weekend?”
“Hard not to.”
“Were you there?”
“Nah. Not my cup of tea. Look, why are you asking all these questions?”
“A young girl was killed there,” he said. “Stabbed.” When Hughes said nothing, he continued, “We’ve good reason to believe that she was Linda Lofthouse.”
“Linda? But… she… bloody hell…” Hughes turned pale.
“She went off to live in London.”
“She was at Brimleigh for the festival.”
“I should have known. Look,” he said, “I’m really sorry to hear about what happened. It was a long time ago, though, me and Linda. Another lifetime, it seems.”
“Two years isn’t very long. People have held grudges longer.”
“What do you mean?”
“Revenge is a dish that’s best eaten cold.”
“I don’t know what you’re on about.”
“Let’s suppose we start at the beginning,” said Chadwick. “You and Linda.”
“We went out together for a couple of years when we were fifteen and sixteen, that’s all.”
“And she had your baby.”
Hughes looked down at his oily hands in his lap. “Yeah, well… I tried to make it right, asked her to marry me and all.”
“That’s not the way I hear it.”
“Look, all right. At first I was scared. Wouldn’t you be? I was only sixteen, I didn’t have no job, nothing. We left school. Linda stayed at home with her mum and dad that summer and had the baby, and I… I don’t know, I suppose I brooded about it. Anyway, I decided in the end we should make a go of it. I had a job here at the garage by then and I thought… you know… that we might have had a chance, after all.”
“She didn’t want to know, did she? By then she’d got her head full of this hippie rubbish. Bob Dylan and his stupid songs and all the rest of it.”
“When did this start?”
“Before we split up. Just little things. Always correcting me when I said something wrong, like she was a bloody grammar expert. Talking about poets and singers I’d never heard of, reincarnation and karma and I don’t know what else. Always arguing. It was like she wasn’t interested in a normal life.”
“What about her new friends?”
“Long-haired pillocks and poxy birds. I hadn’t time for any of them.”
“Did she chuck you?”
“You could say that.”
“And when you came back, cap in hand, she wanted nothing more to do with you?”
“I suppose so. Then she buggered off to London soon as she’d had the kid. Put him up for adoption. My son.”
“Did you follow her down there?”
“I’d had enough by then. Let her go with her poncy new friends and take all the drugs she wanted.”
“Did she take drugs when she was with you?”
“No, not that I knew of. I wouldn’t have stood for it. But that’s what they do, isn’t it?”
“So they stole her from you, did they? The hippies?”
He looked away. “I suppose you could say that.”
“Made you angry enough to do her harm?”
Hughes stood so violently that his chair tipped over. “What are you getting at? Are you trying to say I killed her?”
“Calm down, laddie. I have to ask these questions. It’s a murder investigation.”
“Yeah. Well, I’m not your murderer.”
“Got a bit of a quick temper, though, haven’t you?”
Hughes said nothing. He picked up the chair and sat again, folding his arms across his chest.
“Did you ever meet any of Linda’s new friends?”
Hughes rubbed the back of his hand across his upper lip and nose. “She took me to this house once,” he said. “I think she wanted me to be like her, and she thought maybe she’d convince me by introducing me to her new friends.”
“When was this?”
“Just after she left school. That summer.”
“Nineteen sixty-seven? When she was pregnant?”
“We weren’t getting along well at all. Like I said before, she was weird, into all sorts of weird stuff I didn’t understand, like tarot cards and astrology and all that crap. This one time she was going to see some friends and I didn’t want her to go – I wanted her to come to the pictures with me to see You Only Live Twice – but she said she didn’t want to see some stupid James Bond film, and if I wanted to be with her I could come along. If I didn’t… well… she made it clear I didn’t have much choice. So I thought, What the hell, let’s see what’s going on here.”
“Do you remember where she took you?”
“I dunno. It was off Roundhay Road, near that big pub at the junction with Spenser Place.”
“That’s the one.”
Chadwick knew it. There weren’t many coppers in Leeds, plainclothes or uniformed, who didn’t. “Do you remember the name of the street?”
“No, but it was just over Roundhay Road.”
“One of the Bayswaters?” Chadwick knew the area, a densely packed triangle of streets full of small terraced houses between Roundhay Road, Bayswater Road and Harehills Road. It didn’t have a particularly bad reputation, but quite a few of the houses had been rented to students, and where there were students there were probably drugs.
“That’s the place.”
“Do you know which one?”
“I can’t say for sure, but I think it was the terrace. Or maybe the crescent.”
“Remember where the house was?”
“Which side of the street?”
“Was there anything odd about the place from the outside?”
“No. It looked just like all the others.”
“What color was the door?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Okay. Thanks,” said Chadwick. Maybe he could find it. It was frustrating to be so close but still so far. Even so, it was probably a cold lead. The students who had been there two years ago might have graduated and left town by now. If they were students.
“Nothing, really. There were these people, about five of them, hippies, like, in funny clothes. Freaks.”
“Were they students?”
“Maybe some of them were. I don’t know. They didn’t say. The place smelled like a tart’s window box.”
“Some sort of perfume smell, anyway. I think it was something they were smoking. One or two of them were definitely on something. You could tell by their eyes and the rubbish they were spouting.”
“I don’t remember, but it was all ‘cosmic’ this and ‘cosmic’ that, and there was this awful droning music in the background, like someone rubbing a hacksaw on a metal railing.”
“Do you remember any names?”
“I think one of them was called Dennis. It seemed to be his place. And a girl called Julie. She was blowing bubbles and giggling like a little kid. Linda had been there before, I could tell. She knew her way around and didn’t have to ask anyone, you know, like where the kettle or the toilet was or anything.”
“I wanted to go. I mean, I knew they were taking the mickey because I didn’t talk the same language or like the same music. Even Linda. In the end I said we should leave but she wouldn’t.”
“So what did you do?”
“I left. I couldn’t stick any more of it. I went to see You Only Live Twice by myself.”
There couldn’t have been that many hippies in Leeds during the summer of 1967. It might have been the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, but Leeds was still a northern provincial backwater in many ways, always a little behind the times, and it was only over the past two years or so that the numbers had grown everywhere. The Leeds drugs squad hadn’t even been formed until 1967. Anyway, if there was a Dennis still living on Bayswater Terrace, it shouldn’t be too hard to find him.
“How often did you see her again?”
“A couple of times; then after the baby was born, you know, when I tried to make things up between us. Then she went down south and her bloody mother wouldn’t even give me an address.”
“I got over her. I’ve been going out with someone else for a while now. Might get engaged at Christmas.”
“Congratulations,” said Chadwick, standing up.
“I’m really sorry about Linda,” Hughes said. “But it was nothing to do with me. Honest. I was here working all last weekend. Ask the boss. He’ll tell you.”
Chadwick said he would, then left. When he turned on the car radio he found that Leeds had beaten Sheffield Wednesday 2-1, Allan Clarke and Eddie Grey scoring. Still, he hadn’t missed the game for nothing; he now knew who the victim was and had a lead on some of the people she’d knocked around with in Leeds, if only he could find them.
The Soames farm was about half a mile up a narrow walled lane off the main Lyndgarth to Eastvale road, and it boasted the usual collection of ramshackle outbuildings, built from local limestone, a muddy yard and a barking dog straining at its chain. It also presented the unmistakable bouquet of barnyard smells. Calvin Soames answered the door and with a rather grudging good afternoon let Banks in. The inside was dim with dark low beams and gloomy hallways. The smell of roast beef still lurked somewhere in the depths.
“Our Kelly’s in the kitchen,” he said, pointing with his thumb.
“That’s all right,” said Banks. “It’s you I came to talk to, really.”
“Me? I told you everything I know the other night.”
“I’m sure you did,” said Banks, “but sometimes, after a bit of time, things come back, little things you’d forgotten. May I sit down?”
“Aye, go on, then.”
Banks sat in a deep armchair with a sagging seat. The whole place, once he could see it a bit better, was in some disrepair and lacked what they used to call a woman’s touch. “Is there a Mrs. Soames?” he asked.
“The wife died five years ago. Complications of surgery.” Soames spat out these last words, making it quite clear that he blamed the doctors, the health system, or both, for his wife’s untimely death.
“I’m sorry,” said Banks.
Soames grunted. He was a short, squat man, almost as broad as he was tall, but muscular and fit, Banks judged, wearing a tight waistcoat over his shirt, and a pair of baggy brown trousers. He probably wasn’t more than about forty-five, but farming had aged him, and it showed in the deep lines and rough texture of his ruddy face.
“Look,” Banks went on, “I just want to go over what you told us in the pub on Friday.”
“It were the truth.”
“Nobody doubts that. You said you left the Cross Keys at about seven o’clock because you thought you might have left the gas ring on.”
“Have you done that before?”
“He has,” said a voice from the doorway. “Twice he nearly burned the place down.”
Banks turned. Kelly Soames stood there, arms folded, one blue-jeaned hip cocked against the doorjamb in a graceful curve, flat stomach exposed. She certainly was a lovely girl, Banks thought again; she was fit, and she knew it, as the Streets would say. He’d been spoiled for lovely girls this morning, what with Brian’s Emilia turning up, too.
Should he have said something? Brian and Emilia obviously just assumed they were going to sleep together under his roof, but he wasn’t sure how he felt about that. His own son. What if he heard them? But what else could he have done? Made an issue of it? His parents, of course, would never have stood for such a thing. But attitudes changed. When he was young, he had left home and got a flat in London so he could sleep with girls, stay out late and drink too much. These days, parents allowed their kids to do all that at home, so they never left, had no reason to; they could have all the sex they wanted, come home drunk and still get fed and get their washing done. But Brian was only visiting. Surely it would be best just to let him and Emilia do what they usually did? Banks could imagine the kind of atmosphere it would create if he came on all disciplinarian and said, “Not under my roof, you don’t!” But the whole thing, the assumption, the reality, still made him feel uneasy.
Despite her cocky stance, Kelly Soames seemed nervous, Banks thought. After what Annie had told him about her exploits, he wasn’t surprised. She must be worried that he was going to spill the beans to her father.
“Kelly,” said Mr. Soames, “make a cup of tea for Mr. Banks here. He might be a copper, but we still owe him our hospitality.”
“No, that’s all right, thank you,” said Banks. “I’ve already had far too much coffee this morning.”
“Please yourself. I’ll have a cuppa myself, though, lass.”
Kelly slouched off to make the tea, and Banks could imagine her straining her ears to hear what they were talking about. Calvin Soames took out a pipe and began puffing at some vile-smelling tobacco. Outside, the dog barked from time to time when a group of ramblers passed on the footpath that skirted the farm property.
“What did you think of Nick Barber?” Banks asked.
“Was that his name, poor sod?”
“I can’t say as I thought much, really. I didn’t know him.”
“But he was a regular in your local.”
Soames laughed. “Dropping by the Cross Keys for a pint every day or so for a week doesn’t make anyone a regular around these parts. Tha should know that.”
“Even so,” said Banks, “it was long enough at least to be on greeting terms, wasn’t it?”
“I suppose so. But I can’t say as I have much to do with visitors, myself.”
“Do you need it spelling out? Bloody Londoners come up here buying properties, pushing prices up, and what do they do? They sit in the poncy flats in Kensington and just pull in the cash, that’s what they do.”
“It brings tourism to the Dales, Mr. Soames,” said Banks. “They spend money.”
“Aye. Well, maybe it’s all right for the shopkeepers,” Soames went on, “but it doesn’t do us farmers a lot of good, does it? People tramping over our land morning, noon and night, ruining good grazing pasture.”
As far as Banks had heard, absolutely nothing ever benefited the farmers. He knew they had a hard life, but he also felt that people might respect them more if they didn’t whine so much. If it wasn’t EU regulations or footpath access, it was something else. Of course, foot-and-mouth disease had taken a terrible toll on the Dales farms only a few years ago, but the effects hadn’t been limited to farmers, many of whom had been compensated handsomely. The pinch had also been felt by local businesses, particularly bed-and-breakfast establishments, cafés and tearooms, pubs, walking-gear shops and market-stall holders. And they hadn’t been compensated. Banks also knew that the outbreak had driven more than one ruined local businessman to suicide. It wasn’t that he had no sympathy for the farmers; it was that they often seemed to assume they were the only ones with any rights, or any serious grievances, and they had more than enough sympathy for themselves to make any from other sources seem quite superfluous. But Banks knew he had to tread carefully; this was marshy ground.
“I understand there’s a problem,” he said, “but it won’t be solved by killing off tourists.”
“Do you think that’s what happened?”
“I don’t know what happened,” said Banks.
Kelly came back with the tea, and after she had handed it to her father she lingered by the door again, biting her fingernail.
“Nobody around here would have murdered that lad, you can take it from me,” said Soames.
“How do you know?”
“Because most know you’re right. CC benefits from the holidaymakers, and so do most of the others. Oh, people talk a tough game, that’s Dalesmen for you. We’ve got our pride, if nowt else. But nobody’d go so far as to kill a bloke who’s minding his own business and not doing anyone any harm.”
“Is that your impression of Nick Barber?”
“I didn’t see much of him, like I said, but from what I did see he seemed like a harmless lad. Not mouthy, or full of himself, like some of them. And we didn’t even murder them.”
“When you came home on Friday to check on the gas ring, did you notice anything out of the ordinary?”
“No,” said Soames. “There were one or two cars on the road – this was before the power cut, remember – but not a lot. It was a nasty evening even by then, and most folks, given the choice, were stopping indoors.”
“Did you see anyone near the cottage where Nick Barber was staying?”
“No, but I live the other way, so I wouldn’t have.”
“What about you, Kelly?” Banks asked.
“I was in the pub all the time, working,” said Kelly. “I never left the place. You can ask CC.”
“But what did you think about Nick Barber?”
This was clearly dangerous ground, and Kelly seemed to become even more nervous. She wouldn’t look him in the eye. But Banks wasn’t worried about her. She didn’t know how far he was going to go, but without giving Kelly’s secret away, he wanted to keep his eyes on Calvin to see if there was any hint that he had known what was going on between his nubile daughter and Nick Barber.
“Don’t know, really,” said Kelly. “He seemed a pleasant enough lad, like Dad says. He never really said much.” She examined her fingernails.
“So neither of you knew why he was here?”
“Holiday, I suppose,” said Calvin. “Though why anyone would want to come up here at this time of year is beyond me.”
“Would it surprise you to hear that he was a writer of some sort?”
“Can’t say as I ever really thought about it,” said Calvin.
“I think he was mostly just looking for a secluded place to work,” said Banks, “but there might also be another reason why he was up here rather than, say, in Cornwall or Norfolk, for example.” Banks noticed Kelly tense up. “I don’t know if he was writing fiction or history, but it’s possible that, either way, he might have been doing some research, and there might have been someone he wanted to see, someone he’d been looking for with some connection to the area, maybe to the past. Any ideas who that might be?”
Calvin shook his head, and Kelly followed suit. Banks studied them. He thought himself a reasonable judge, and he was satisfied from the reactions and body language he had seen that Calvin Soames did not know about his daughter shagging Nick Barber, which gave him no real motive for the murder. No more than anyone else, anyway. Whether Kelly had a motive, he didn’t know. True, she had been working at the time of the murder, but she admitted to seeing Barber in the afternoon, and if the doctor was at all wrong about the time of death, he could have been dead when she left him. But why? They’d only known one another a few days, according to Annie, and they’d both had a bit of fun without any expectation of a future.
It would be good to keep an open mind, as ever, Banks thought, but for now his thoughts moved toward London and what they might find out from Nick’s flat.
Monday, 15th September, 1969
One thing that disappointed Chadwick as he riffled through the stack of Brimleigh Festival photographs on Monday morning was that they had all, except for a few obviously posed ones, been taken in daylight. He should have expected that. Flash doesn’t carry a great distance, and it would have been useless for shots of the crowd at night, or of the bands performing.
One photographer did seem to have got backstage, though; at least several of his photographs were taken there, candids. Linda Lofthouse showed up in three of them; the flowing white dress with the delicate embroidery was easy to spot. In one she was standing, chatting casually with a mixed group of long-haired people, in another she was with two men he didn’t recognize, and in the third she was sitting alone, staring into the distance. It was an exquisite photograph, head and shoulders in profile, perhaps taken with a telephoto lens. She looked beautiful and fragile, and there was no flower painted on her cheek.
“Someone to see you downstairs, sir,” said Karen, popping her head around his door and breaking the spell.
“Who?” Chadwick asked.
“Young couple. They just asked to see the man in charge of the Brimleigh Festival murder.”
“Did they, indeed? Better have them sent up.”
Chadwick glanced out of his window as he waited, sipping his tepid coffee. He was high up at the back and looked out over British Insulated Callender’s Cables Ltd. up Westgate toward the majestic dome of the town hall, blackened like the other buildings by a century of industry. A steady flow of traffic headed west toward the Inner Ring Road.
Finally, there was a knock at his door and Karen showed in the young couple. They looked a bit sheepish, the way most people would in the inner sanctum of police headquarters. Chadwick introduced himself and asked them to sit down. Both were in their early twenties, the young man with neatly cut short hair and a dark suit, and the girl in a white blouse and a black miniskirt, blond hair pulled back and tied behind her neck with a red ribbon. Dressed for work. They introduced themselves as Ian Tilbrook and June Betts.
“You said it was about the Brimleigh Festival murder,” Chadwick began.
Ian Tilbrook’s eyes looked anywhere but at Chadwick, and June fidgeted with her handbag on her lap. But it was she who spoke first. “Yes,” she said, giving Tilbrook a sideways glance. “I know we should have come forward sooner,” she said, “but we were there.”
“At the festival?”
“So were thousands of others. Did you see something?”
“No, it’s not that,” June went on. She glanced at Tilbrook again, who was staring out of the window, took a deep breath and went on. “Someone stole our sleeping bag.”
“I see,” said Chadwick, suddenly interested.
“Well, the newspapers said to report anything odd, and it was odd, wasn’t it?”
“Why didn’t you come forward earlier?”
June looked at Tilbrook again. “He didn’t want to get involved,” she said. “He’s up for promotion at the Copper Works, and he thinks it’ll spoil his chances if they find out he’s been going to pop festivals. They’ll think he’s a drug-taking hippie. And a murder suspect.”
“That’s not fair!” said Tilbrook. “I said it was probably nothing, it was just a sleeping bag, but you kept going on about it.” He looked at his watch. “And now I’m going to be late for work.”
“Never mind about that, laddie,” said Chadwick. “Just tell me about it.”
Tilbrook sulked, but June took up the story again. “Well, the papers said she was found in a blue Woolworth’s sleeping bag and ours was blue and from Woolworth’s. I just thought… you know.”
“Can you identify it?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t think so. They’re all the same, aren’t they?”
“I suppose you both… er… it was big enough for the two of you… you spent some time in it over the weekend?”
June blushed. “Yes.”
“There’ll be evidence we can match. You’ll still have to look at it.”
June cringed. “I don’t think I could. Is there…? I mean, did she…?”
“There’s not a lot of blood, no, and you won’t have to see it.”
“All right. I suppose.”
“But first give me a few details. Let’s start with the time.”
“We weren’t really paying attention to time,” said Tilbrook, “but it was late Sunday night.”
“How do you know?”
“Led Zeppelin were on,” said June. “They were the last band to play, and we went to see if we could get anywhere closer to the stage. We left our stuff, thinking if we did find somewhere, one of us could go back and get it while the other remained, but we couldn’t find anywhere; it was so crowded near the front. When we got back it was gone.”
“Just the sleeping bag?”
“What else did you have?”
“Just a rucksack with some extra clothes, a bottle of pop and sandwiches.”
“And that remained untouched?”
“Where were you sitting?”
“Right at the edge of the woods, about halfway down the field.”
It was close, Chadwick thought with a surge of excitement, very close. So the killer had walked two hundred yards through the dense woods to the edge of the field and found a sleeping bag. Had that been what he was looking for? He would certainly have known that plenty of people there had one. It would have been dark by then. The crowd would, for the most part, be entranced by the music, all their attention focused on the stage, and it would have been easy enough for a dark figure to pick up a sleeping bag, even if the owners had been sitting nearby, and slip back into the woods.
Putting it back on the field with a body in it would have been more difficult, of course, and Chadwick was willing to bet that someone had seen something, a figure dragging a bag of some sort, or carrying it over his shoulder. Why had no one come forward? Clearly they hadn’t found what they saw suspicious, or they simply wanted to avoid any sort of contact with the police. Drugs might have played a part, too. Perhaps whoever saw it was too far gone to comprehend what he or she was seeing. On the other hand, the killer might have waited until Led Zeppelin had finished playing and people started wandering home. Then it would have been easy to plant the sleeping bag. However it happened, the best thing the killer had in his favor was that not one of the twenty-five thousand people present would expect to see someone dragging a body in a sleeping bag over the grass.
There were risks, of course; there always are. Someone might also have seen him steal the bag, for example, and raised a hue and cry. But it was so dark that they wouldn’t have been able to describe him, and those hippies, in Chadwick’s experience, had a very cavalier attitude toward private property. Also, someone might have found the body while he was away. Even then, all he would have lost was the opportunity to try to disguise the crime, to make it look as if the girl had been killed in the sleeping bag on the field.
It was clear they weren’t dealing with a criminal genius here, but he had had luck on his side. Even if he hadn’t disguised the crime scene and someone had found the body in the woods, there was still no evidence to link it to him and the police would be exactly where they were now. Or at least where they had been before June Betts and Ian Tilbrook had come forward. It hadn’t taken long to debunk the misleading evidence about where the victim was killed, and now, just as Chadwick had hoped, the attempt to mislead had yielded a clue. They now had a much better idea of the time of the murder, if nothing else, but they still didn’t know what had happened to the knife.
“Can you be a bit more specific about the time?” he asked. “How long had the group been playing?”
“It’s hard to say,” said June, looking at Tilbrook. “They hadn’t been on long.”
“They were playing ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ when we set off to see if we could find somewhere nearer the stage,” said Tilbrook, “and they were still playing it when we got back. I think it was their second number of the set, and the first was pretty short.”
Chadwick had no idea how long these songs lasted, but he realized he could probably get a set list from Rick Hayes, to whom he wanted to speak again anyway. For now, this would have to do. “Say between five past one and half past, then?”
“We didn’t have watches,” said June, “but if you say they started at one, then yes, it would have been about twenty minutes into the show, something like that.”
That would put the time at about one-twenty, which meant that Linda must have been killed between about one, when the band started, and then. He showed them her photograph. “Did you see this girl at any time?”
“No,” they said.
Then Chadwick showed them the pictures of Linda with others. “Recognize anyone?”
“Isn’t that…?” June said.
“It could be, I suppose,” said Ian.
“Who?” Chadwick asked.
“They’re from the Mad Hatters,” Ian explained. “Terry Watson and Robin Merchant.”
Chadwick looked at the photograph again. He would be talking to the Mad Hatters that afternoon. “Okay,” he said, standing up. “Now if you’d like to come to the evidence room with me, you can have a look at that sleeping bag.”
Reluctantly they followed him down.
“I know you have a train to catch,” said Detective Superintendent Catherine Gervaise early on Monday morning, but I wanted to have a quick word with you before you left.”
Banks sat across the desk from her in what used to be Gristhorpe’s office. It was a lot more sparsely decorated now, and the bookcases held only books on law, criminology and management technique. Gone were the leather-bound volumes of Dickens, Hardy and Austen with which Gristhorpe had surrounded himself, and the books about fly-fishing and drystone-wall building. One shelf displayed a few of the superintendent’s archery awards, alongside a framed photograph of her aiming a bow. The only true decorative effect was a poster for an old Covent Garden production of Tosca on the wall.
“As you probably know,” Superintendent Gervaise went on, “this is my first murder investigation at this level, and I’m sure the boys and girls in the squad room have been having a good laugh at my expense.”
She waved him down. “It doesn’t matter. That’s not what this is about.” She shuffled some papers on her desk. “I know a lot about you, DCI Banks. I make a point of knowing as much as I can about the officers under my command.”
“A very wise move,” said Banks, wondering if he was in for even more of the obvious.
She gave him a sharp glance. “Including your penchant for cheap sarcasm,” she said. “But that’s not why we’re here, either.” She leaned back in her executive chair and smiled, her cupid’s-bow lips turning up at the edges as if she was ready to fire an arrow. “I’d like, if I may, to be completely frank with you, DCI Banks, on the understanding that nothing that’s said in here this morning goes beyond you, me and these four walls. Is that clear?”
“Yes,” said Banks, now wondering what the hell was coming next.
“I’m aware that you recently lost your brother under appalling circumstances, and you have my sincere commiserations. I am also aware that you lost your home, and almost your life, not too long ago. All in all, it’s been quite an eventful year for you, hasn’t it?”
“It has, but I hope none of that has affected my job.”
“Oh, but I think we can be quite sure that it has, don’t you?” She was wearing oval glasses with silver frames, which she adjusted as she looked at the papers on her desk. “Withholding information in a major investigation, assault on a suspect with an iron bar. Need I go on? But you don’t need much encouragement to go a little bit over the top, do you, DCI Banks? You never did. Your record is a patchwork quilt of questionable decisions and downright insubordination. Res ipsa loquitur, as the lawyers are fond of saying.”
So you can quote Latin, Banks thought to himself. Big deal. “Look,” he said, “I’ve cut a few corners, I admit it. You have to in this job if you’re to keep ahead of the villains. But I’ve never perjured myself, I’ve never faked the evidence and I’ve never used force to get a confession. I admit I lost it in London last summer, but, like you said, a personal tragedy. You’re the new broom, I understand that. You want to make a clean sweep. Fair enough. If I’m a transfer waiting to happen, then let’s get on with it.”
“What on earth makes you think that?”
“Maybe something you said?”
She regarded him through narrowed eyes. “You got on very well with my predecessor, Detective Superintendent Gristhorpe, didn’t you?”
“He was a good copper.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What I said. Mr. Gristhorpe was an experienced officer.”
“And he gave you free rein.”
“He knew how to get the job done.”
“Right.” Superintendent Gervaise leaned forward and clasped her hands on the desk. “Well, let me tell you something that may surprise you. I don’t want you to change. I want you to get the job done, too.”
“What?” said Banks.
“I thought that might surprise you. Let me tell you something. I’m a woman in a man’s world. Do you think I don’t know that? Do you think I don’t know how many people resent me because of it, how many are waiting in the wings just to see me fail? But I’m also ambitious. I see no reason why I shouldn’t make chief constable in a few years. Not here, necessarily, but somewhere. Maybe they’ll give me the position because I’m a woman. I don’t care. I’ve got nothing against positive discrimination. We’ve had it coming for centuries. It’s well overdue. My predecessor wasn’t ambitious. He didn’t care. He was close to retirement. But I’m not, and I still see a career ahead of me, a long career, and a great one.”
“And my role in all this is?”
“You know as well as I do that we’re judged by results, and one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve studied your checkered career, is that you do get results. Maybe not in the traditional ways, maybe not always in the legally prescribed ways, but you get them. And it may also interest you to know that there are relatively few black marks against you. That means you get away with it. Most of the time.” She sat back and smiled again. “When the doctor asks you how much you drink, what do you tell him?”
“Come on. This isn’t about drinking. What do you tell him?”
“You know, a couple of drinks a day, something like that.”
“And do you know what your doctor does?”
“He immediately doubles that figure.” She leaned forward again. “My point is that we all lie about things like that, and this” – she tapped the folders in front of her – “simply tells me that the number of times you got caught out in something not exactly kosher is the tip of the iceberg. And that’s good.”
“Yes. I want someone who gets away with it. I don’t want black marks against you because they’ll reflect on me, but I do want results. And, as I said, you get results. It looks good on me, and when I leave this godforsaken wasteland of sheep-shaggers and Saturday-night pub brawlers, I want to take a shining record with me. And that might be sooner than we think if the Home Office has its way. I assume you’ve been reading the newspapers?”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Banks. Many of the smaller county forces, such as North Yorkshire, had recently been deemed by the Home Office as not up to the task of policing the modern world. Consequently, there was talk of them being merged with larger neighboring forces, which meant that the North Yorkshire Constabulary might be swallowed up by West Yorkshire. Nobody was saying what would happen to the present personnel if such a shake-up actually went ahead.
“You can give me that shining record,” Superintendent Gervaise went on, “and in return I can give you enough rope. Drink on duty, follow leads on your own, disappear for days without reporting in. I don’t care. But all the while you’re doing those things, they’d damn well better be for the sake of solving the case, and you’d damn well better solve it quick, and I’d damn well better get all the reflected glory. No slacking. Am I still making myself clear?”
“You are, ma’am,” said Banks, struck with admiration and awe for the spectacle of naked ambition unfolding before him, and working in his favor.
“And if you do anything over the top, make damn sure you don’t get caught or you’ll be out on your arse,” she said. Then she straightened the collar of her white silk blouse and leaned back in her chair. “Now,” she said, “don’t you have a train to catch?”
Banks got up and walked to the door.
“That Opera North production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Don’t you think it was just a little lackluster? And wasn’t Lucia just a little too shrill?”
Monday, 15th September, 1969
After a meeting with Bradley, Enderby and Detective Chief Superintendent McCullen later on Monday morning, Chadwick invited Geoff Broome for a lunchtime sandwich and pint at the pub across from Park Lane College. Most of the students hung out in the slightly more posh lounge, but the public bar was Chadwick’s domain, and that of a few old-age pensioners who sat quietly playing dominoes over their halves of mild. With a couple of pints of Webster’s Pennine Bitter beside them, and a plate of roast beef sandwiches each, Chadwick brought Broome up-to-date on the Linda Lofthouse murder.
“I don’t know why you’re telling me all this, Stan,” said Broome, finishing his sandwich and taking out a packet of ten Kensitas, tapping one on the table and lighting it. “It doesn’t sound like a drug-related killing to me.”
Chadwick watched Broome inhale and exhale and felt the familiar urge he thought he’d vanquished six years ago when the doctor found a shadow on his lung that turned out to be tuberculosis and cost him six months in a sanitarium.
“Smoke bothering you?” Broome asked.
“No, it’s all right.” Chadwick sipped some beer. “I’m not saying it’s a drug-related murder, but drugs might play a part in it, that’s all. I was just wondering whether you might be able to help me find out who the girl’s contacts in Leeds were. You know that scene far better than I do.”
“Of course, if I can,” said Broome. As usual, his hair looked disheveled and his suit looked as if it had been slept in. All of which might have masked the fact that he was one of the best detectives in the county. Perhaps not good enough to detect that his wife had been having it off with a vacuum-cleaner salesman behind his back, but good enough to reduce significantly the amount of illegal drugs entering into the city. He also ran one of the most efficient networks of undercover officers, and his many paid informants within the drugs community knew they could depend on absolute anonymity.
Chadwick told him what Donald Hughes had said about visiting the house in one of the Bayswaters.
“I can’t say anything springs immediately to mind,” said Broome, “but we’ve had call to visit that neighborhood once in a while. Let me do a bit of fishing.”
“Bloke called Dennis,” said Chadwick. “And it’s maybe Terrace or Crescent. That’s all I know.”
Broome jotted the name and streets down. “You really think it’s not just some random nutcase?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Chadwick answered. “If you look at the crime, what we know of it, that’s certainly a possibility. Until we know more about the girl’s background and movements and whether she was drugged or not, for example, we can’t really say much more. She was stabbed five times, so hard that the knife hilt bruised her chest and the blade cut off a piece of her heart. But there were no signs of any sort of struggle in the surrounding grass, and the bruising around her neck is minimal.”
“Maybe it was a lovers’ quarrel? Lovers kill each other all the time, Stan. You know that.”
“Yes, but they’re usually a bit more obvious about it. Like I said, this has more deliberate elements. The killer stood behind her, for a start.”
“So she’s leaning back on him. She felt safe. What about her boyfriend?”
“Didn’t have one, so far as we know. She had an ex-boyfriend, Donald Hughes, but his alibi checks out. He was working most of the night on a rush job at the garage where he works, and he wouldn’t have had time to go anywhere near Brimleigh.”
“Someone else close to her, then?”
“I suppose there’s a chance she knew her killer,” Chadwick admitted, “that it was someone she felt familiar with, felt comfortable with. Why he did it is another matter entirely. But to find out any more we need to track down her friends.”
“Well, I can’t promise anything but I’ll see what I can do,” said Broome. “Good Lord, is that the time? Must dash. I have to see a man about a shipment of Dexedrine.”
“All go, isn’t it?”
“You can say that again. What’s next on your agenda? Why so gloomy?”
“I’ve got an appointment with their royal majesties the Mad Hatters this afternoon,” Chadwick said.
“Lucky you. Maybe they’ll give you a free LP.”
“They know what they can do with it.”
“Think of Yvonne, though, Stan. You’d be golden in her eyes, you met the Mad Hatters and got a signed LP.”
“Get away with you.”
“I’ll come back to you about the house,” Broome said, then left.
Broome’s cigarette butt still smoldered in the ashtray. Chadwick put it out. That made his fingers smell of smoke, so he went to the toilet and washed them before sitting down to finish his drink. He could hear a group of students in the lounge laughing over Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” on the jukebox, a song Chadwick actually quite liked when he heard it on the radio. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to get a signed LP for Yvonne, he thought, then immediately dismissed the idea. A lot of good that would do for his authority, begging a bunch of drug-addled layabouts for their autographs.
Chadwick tried to picture the twenty-five thousand kids at the Brimleigh Festival all sitting in the dark listening to a loud band on a distant lit-up stage. He knew he could narrow his range of suspects if he tried hard enough, especially now that he had a more accurate idea of the time of the murder. For a start, Rick Hayes was still holding something back, he was certain of it. The candid photographs proved that Linda Lofthouse had been in the backstage area, and that she had talked with two members of the Mad Hatters, among others. Hayes must have known this, but he didn’t say anything. Why? Was he protecting someone? On the other hand, Chadwick remembered that Hayes himself was left-handed, like the killer, so if he knew more than he was telling…
Still, he admonished himself, no point in too much theorizing ahead of the facts. Imagination had never been his forte, and he had seen enough to know that the details of the murder did not necessarily give any clues as to the killer’s state of mind, or to his relationship with the victim. People were capable of strange and wondrous behavior, and some of it was murderous. He finished his pint and went back to the station. He would get DC Bradley to give the boffins a gentle nudge while he went out to Swainsview Lodge with young Enderby.
Banks hadn’t been to London since Roy’s death, or since the terrible tube and bus suicide bombings that summer, and he was surprised, getting off the GNER InterCity at King’s Cross that lunchtime, at how just being there brought a lump to his throat. It was partly Roy, of course, and partly some deep-rooted sense of outrage at what the place had suffered.
King’s Cross Station was the usual throng of travelers standing gazing up at the boards like people looking for alien spacecraft. There was nowhere to sit; that was the problem. The station authorities didn’t want to encourage people to hang around the station; they had enough problems with terrorists, teenage prostitution and drugs as it was. So they let the poor buggers stand while they waited for their trains.
A uniformed constable met Banks and Annie at the side exit, as arranged, and whisked them in a patrol car through the streets of central London to Cromwell Road and along the Great West Road, past the roadside graffiti-scored concrete-and-glass towers of Hammersmith to Nick Barber’s Chiswick flat, not far from Fuller’s Brewery. It was a modern brick low-rise building, three stories in all, and Barber had lived at the top in one of the corner units. The police locksmith was waiting for them.
When the paperwork had been completed and handed over, the lock yielded so quickly to the smith’s ministrations that Banks wondered whether he had once used his skills to less legitimate ends.
Banks and Annie found themselves standing in a room with purple walls, on which hung a number of prints of famous psychedelic poster art: Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall at Winterland, 1 February, 1968; Buffalo Springfield at the Fillmore Auditorium, 21 December, 1967; the Mad Hatters at the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, 6 October, 1968. Mixed with these were a number of framed sixties album covers: Cheap Thrills, Disraeli Gears, Blind Faith, Forever Changes and Sir Peter Blake’s infamous Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Custom shelving held a formidable collection of CDs and LPs, and the stereo equipment was top of the line Bang amp; Olufsen, as were the Bose headphones resting by the leather armchair.
There were far too many CDs to browse through, but on a cursory glance Banks noticed a prevalence of late-sixties to early-seventies rock, stopping around Bowie and Roxy Music, and including some bands he hadn’t thought of in years, like Atomic Rooster, Quintessence, Dr. Strangely Strange and Amazing Blondel. There was also a smattering of jazz, mostly Miles, ’Trane and Mingus, along with a fair collection of J. S. Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart.
One shelf was devoted to magazines and newspapers in which Nick Barber had published reviews or features, and quickie rock bios. Some recent correspondence, mostly bills and junk mail, sat on a small worktable under the window. There was no desktop computer, Banks noticed, which probably meant Barber did all his work on the fly on his laptop, which had been taken.
The bedroom was tidy and functional, with a neatly made double bed and a wardrobe full of clothes, much the same as the ones he’d had with him in Yorkshire: casual and not too expensive. There was nothing to indicate any interests other than music, apart from the bookshelves, which reflected fairly catholic tastes in modern fiction, from Amis to Wodehouse, with a few popular science-fiction, horror and crime novels mixed in – Philip K. Dick, Ramsey Campbell, Derek Raymond, James Herbert, Ursula K. Le Guin, James Elroy and George Pelecanos. The rest were books about rock and roll: Greil Marcus, Lester Bangs, Peter Guralnick.
A filing cabinet in a corner of the bedroom held copies of contracts, lists and reviews of concerts attended, expense sheets and drafts of articles, all of which would have to be taken away and examined in detail. For the moment, though, Banks found what he needed to know in a brief note in the “Current” file referring to “the matter we discussed” and urging Barber to go ahead and get started. It also reminded him that they didn’t pay expenses up front. The notepaper was headed with the MOJO logo and an address at Mappin House, on Winsley Street in the West End. It was dated 1st October, just a couple of weeks before Nick Barber left for Yorkshire.
There were several messages on Nick’s answering machine: two from an anxious girlfriend, who left him her work number, said she hadn’t seen him for a while and wanted to get together for a drink; another from a mate about tickets to a Kasabian concert; and one offering the deal of the century on double-glazing. As far as Banks could see, Nick Barber had kept his life clean and tidy and taken most of it with him on the road. Now it had disappeared.
“We’d better split up,” he said to Annie. “I’ll try the MOJO offices and you see if you can get any luck with the girl who left her work number. See if there’s anything else you can find around the flat that might tell us anything about him, too, and arrange to have the files and stuff taken up to Eastvale. I’ll take the tube and leave you the driver.”
“Okay,” said Annie. “Where shall we meet up?”
Banks named an Italian restaurant in Soho, one he was sure they hadn’t been to together before, so it held no memories for them. They’d have to take a taxi or the tube back to their hotel, which was some distance away, just off Cromwell Road, not too far from the magnificent Natural History Museum. It was clean, they had been assured, and unlikely to break the tight police budget. As Annie busied herself listening to Barber’s phone messages again, Banks left the flat and headed for the underground.
Melanie Wright dabbed at her cheeks and apologized to Annie for the second time. They were sitting in a Starbucks near the Embankment, not far from where Melanie worked as an estate agent. She said she could take a break when Annie called, but when she found out about Nick Barber’s murder, she got upset and her boss told her she could take the rest of the afternoon off. If Nick had a “type,” then Annie was at a loss to know what it was. Kelly Soames was gamine, pale and rather naive, whereas Melanie was shapely, tanned and sophisticated. Perhaps the only similarities were that both were a few years younger than him, and both were blondes.
“Nick never let anyone get really close to him,” Melanie said over a Frappuccino, “but that was okay. I mean, I’m only twenty-four. I’m not ready to get married yet. Or even to live with someone, for that matter. I’ve got a nice flat in Chelsea I share with a girlfriend, and we get on really well and give each other lots of space.”
“But you did go out with Nick?”
“Yes. We’d been seeing one another for a year or so now, on and off. I mean, we weren’t exclusive or anything. We weren’t even what you’d call a couple, really. But we had fun. Nick was fun to be with, most of the time.”
“What do you mean, most of the time?”
“Oh, he could be a bit of a bore when he got on his hobbyhorse. That’s all. I mean, I wasn’t even born when the bloody sixties happened. It wasn’t my fault. Can’t stand the music, either.”
“So you didn’t share his enthusiasm?”
“Nobody could. It was more than an enthusiasm with him. I mean, I know this sounds weird, because he was really cool and I got to meet all sorts of bands and stuff – I mean, we even had a drink with Jimmy Page once at some awards do. Can you believe it? Jimmy Page! Even I know who he is. But even though it all sounds really cool and everything, being a rock writer and meeting famous people, when you get right down to it, it’s a bit like having any kind of all-consuming hobby, isn’t it. I mean, it could have been train-spotting, or computers or something.”
“Are you saying Nick was a bit of a nerd?”
“In some ways. Of course, there was more to him than that, or I wouldn’t have hung around. Nerds aren’t my type.”
“It wasn’t just for the bands, then?”
She shot Annie a sharp, disapproving glance. “No. I’m not like that, either. We really had fun, me and Nick. I can’t believe he’s gone. I’ll miss him so much.” She dabbed at her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Melanie,” said Annie. “I don’t mean to be insensitive or anything, but in this job you tend to get a bit cynical. When was the last time you saw Nick?”
“It must have been about two weeks ago, a bit over.”
“What did you do?”
She gave Annie a look. “What do you think we did?”
“We had dinner.”
“At his place?”
“Yeah. He was a fair chef. Liked watching all those cooking programs on TV. Can’t stand them myself. You ask me what I can make, and I say reservations.”
Annie had heard it before, but she laughed anyway. “Was there anything different about him?”
Melanie thought for a moment, frowning, then she said, “It was just a feeling I got, really. I mean, I’d been around him before when he was pitching for a feature. It always mattered to him – I mean, he loved it – but this time, he was sort of anxious. I don’t think he’d got the green light yet.”
“Why do you think he was anxious? That he wouldn’t get the assignment?”
“Maybe it was partly that, but I think it was more that it was personal.”
“Yeah. Don’t ask me why. I mean, Nick was fanatical about all his projects, and secretive about the details, but I got the sense that this one was a little more personal for him.”
“Did he tell you what, or who, he was working on?”
“No. But he never did. I don’t know if he thought I’d tell someone else who’d get to it first, but, like I said, he was always secretive until he’d finished. Used to disappear for weeks on end. Never told me where he was going. Not that he had any obligation to, mind you. I mean, it’s not like we were joined at the hip or anything.”
“Did he say anything at all about it?”
“Just once, that last night.” She gave a little laugh. “It was a funny sort of thing to say. He said it was a very juicy story and it had everything, including murder.”
“Murder? He actually said that?”
Melanie started crying again. “Yes,” she said. “But I didn’t think he meant his own.”
Monday, 15th September, 1969
The Mad Hatters, Enderby explained as he negotiated the winding country roads with seeming ease, consisted of five members: Terry Watson on rhythm guitar and vocals, Vic Greaves on keyboards and backup vocals, Reg Cooper on lead guitar, Robin Merchant on bass and vocals and Adrian Pritchard on drums. They had formed about three years ago after they met at Leeds University, and so were considered a local band, though only two of them – Greaves and Cooper – actually came from Yorkshire. For the first year or so they played only gigs around the West Riding, then a London promoter happened to catch one of their shows at a Bradford pub and decided they’d fill a niche in the London scene with their unique blend of psychedelic pastoral.
“Hold on a minute,” said a frustrated Chadwick. “What on earth is ‘psychedelic pastoral’ when it’s at home?”
Enderby smiled indulgently. “Think of Alice in Wonderland or Winnie the Pooh set to rock music.”
Chadwick winced. “I’d rather not. Go on.”
“That’s about all, sir. They caught on, got bigger and bigger, and now they’ve got a best-selling LP out, and they’re hobnobbing with rock’s élite. They’re tipped for even bigger things. Roger Waters from Pink Floyd was telling me just yesterday in Rugby that he thought they’d go far.”
Chadwick was already getting tired of Enderby’s name-dropping since the weekend, and he wondered if it had been a mistake to send him down to interview the Brimleigh Festival groups who were appearing in Rugby. He hadn’t even found out anything of interest in two days, and reported that there had only been about three hundred people there. And he still hadn’t got a haircut. “What the hell does Lord Jessop have to do with this?” he asked, changing the subject. “This place does belong to him, doesn’t it?”
“Yes. He’s young, rich, a bit of a longhair himself. He likes the music, and he likes to be associated with that world. Bit of a swinger, you might say. Actually, he’s away a lot of the time, and he lets them use his house and grounds for rest and rehearsals.”
“Simple as that?”
Chadwick gazed out at the landscape, the valley bottom to his left where the river Swain meandered between wooded banks, and the rising slope of the daleside opposite, a haphazard pattern of drystone walls and green fields until about halfway up, where the grass turned brown and the rise ended in gray limestone outcrops along the top, marking the start of the gorse-and-heather moorland.
It was a fine day, with only a few high white clouds in the sky. Even so, Chadwick felt out of his element. It wasn’t as if he had never visited the Dales before. He and Janet had had many rides out there when Yvonne was younger and he got his first car, a Reliant three-wheeler that rocked dangerously in even the slightest crosswind. He wasn’t untouched by the beauty of nature, but he was still a city boy at heart. After a short while the open country did nothing for him except make him miss the damp pavements, the noise and bustle and crowds even more.
If he had his way, they would spend their holidays exploring new cities, but Janet liked the caravan. Yvonne wouldn’t be coming with them for very much longer, he thought, so he might just be able to persuade Janet to take a trip to Paris or Amsterdam, if they could afford it, and broaden her horizons. Janet had never been abroad, and Chadwick himself had only been on the Continent during wartime. It would be interesting to revisit some of his old haunts. Not the beaches, battlefields or cemeteries – he had no interest in them – but the bars, cafés and homes where people had opened their doors and hearts and shown their gratitude after liberation.
“Here we are, sir.”
Chadwick snapped out of his reverie as Enderby pulled off the narrow track onto the grass. “Is this it?” he asked. “It doesn’t look like much of a place.”
What he could see of the house beyond its high stone wall and wooden gate was an unremarkable building of limestone with a flagstone roof and three chimneys. It was long and low with very few windows; all in all, a gloomy-looking place.
“This is just the back,” said Enderby as they approached the gate. It opened into a flagged yard, and the path led to a heavy red door with a large brass knocker in the shape of a lion’s head. “Tradesman’s entrance.”
Enderby knocked on the door, and they waited. The silence was oppressive, Chadwick thought. No birds singing. Even the sound of a rock band rehearsing would have been preferable. Well, on second thought…
The door opened and a young man of about thirty in a paisley shirt and flared black denim jeans greeted them. His chestnut hair wasn’t as long as Chadwick would have expected, but it did hang over his collar. “You must be the police,” he said. “I’m Chris Adams, the band’s manager. I don’t see how we can help you, but please come in.”
Enderby and Chadwick followed him into a broad paneled hallway with doors leading off to the left and right. The dark wood gleamed, and Chadwick caught a whiff of lemon-scented polish. At the far end a set of French windows framed a stunning view of the opposite daleside, an asymmetrical jumble of fields and drystone walls, and below them, at the bottom of the slope, was the river. The doors, Chadwick noticed as he got closer, led out to a terrace with stone balustrades. A table, complete with umbrella, and six chairs stood in front of the doors.
“Impressive,” said Chadwick.
“It’s nice when the weather’s good,” said Adams. “Which I can’t say is all that often in this part of the world.”
“I grew up in Leeds. Went to school with Vic, the keyboards player. It’s down here.”
He led them down a flight of stone steps and Chadwick realized then that they had entered the house on its highest level and there was a whole other floor beneath. At least half of it, he noticed as they walked in through the door, was taken up by one large room, at the moment full of guitars, drums, keyboard instruments, microphones, consoles, amplifiers, speakers and thick, snaking electrical cords: the rehearsal studio, mercifully silent except for the all-pervading hum of electricity. More French windows, these ones open, led out to a patio area in the shadow of the terrace above. Just beyond that, across a short stretch of overgrown lawn, was a granite and marble swimming pool. Why anyone would want an outdoor swimming pool in their backyard in Yorkshire was beyond Chadwick, but the rich had their own tastes, and the wherewithal to indulge them. Perhaps it was heated. Sunlight reflecting from the surface told him the pool was full of water.
Four young men sat around in the large room smoking cigarettes and chatting and laughing with three girls, and one lay on a sofa reading. On a table by one wall stood a variety of bottles – Coca-Cola, gin, vodka, whiskey, brandy, beer and wine. Some of the others seemed to have drinks already, and Adams offered refreshments, but Chadwick declined. He didn’t like to feel beholden in any way toward people who might very well be, or might soon become, suspects. Everyone was wearing casual clothes, mostly jeans and T-shirts, some tie-dyed in the most outrageous patterns and colors. Very long hair was the norm for both men and women, except for Adams, who seemed a shade more conservative than the rest. Chadwick was wearing a dark suit and muted tie.
Now that he was here, Chadwick didn’t know exactly where to start. Adams introduced the band members, who all said hello politely, and the girls, who giggled and retreated to one of the other rooms.
Fortunately, one of the group members stepped forward and said, “How can we help you, Mr. Chadwick? We heard about what happened at Brimleigh. It’s terrible.”
It was Robin Merchant, bass and vocals, and clearly the spokesman. He was tall and thin and wore jeans and a jacket made of some satiny blue material with zodiac signs embroidered on it.
“I don’t know that you can,” said Chadwick, sitting down on a folding chair. “It’s just that we have information the girl was in the backstage area at some point on Sunday evening, and we’re trying to find out if anyone saw her there or talked to her.”
“There were a lot of people around,” said Merchant.
“I know that. And I also know that things might have been, shall we say, a wee bit chaotic back there.”
One of the others – Adrian Pritchard, the drummer, Chadwick thought – laughed. “You can say that again. It was anarchy, man.”
They all laughed.
“Even so,” Chadwick said, “one of you might have seen or heard something important. You might not know it, what it is, but it’s possible.”
“Does the tree fall in the woods if no one is there to hear it?” chimed in the one on the sofa. Vic Greaves, keyboard player.
“Come again?” said Chadwick.
Greaves stared off into space. “It’s a matter of philosophy, isn’t it? How can I know something if I don’t know it? How can I know that something happens if I don’t experience it?”
“What Vic means,” said Merchant, jumping to the rescue, “is that we were all pretty much focused on what we were doing.”
“What were you doing?”
“Well, you know,” said Merchant, “just relaxing in the caravan, practicing a few chord changes, or maybe having a drink or something, talking to guys in the other bands. Depends what time it was.”
Chadwick doubted it. Most likely, he thought, they were taking drugs and having sex with groupies, but none of them was going to admit that. “What time did you perform?”
Merchant looked to the others for confirmation. “We went on about eight, just after, right, and we played an hour set, so we were off again just after nine. After the roadies moved the equipment around and set up the light show, Pink Floyd came on after us, about ten, then Fleetwood Mac, then Led Zep.”
“And after your set? What did you do?”
Merchant shrugged. “We just hung around, you know. We were pretty wired, the adrenaline from performing and everything – I mean, it went really well, a great gig, and a big one for us – so we needed a couple of drinks to come down. I don’t know, we just listened to the other bands, that sort of thing. I spent a bit of time in the caravan reading.”
“You wouldn’t have heard of it.”
“Aleister Crowley, Magick in Theory and Practice.”
“Never heard of it,” said Chadwick with a smile.
Merchant gave him a sharp, penetrating glance. “As I said, I didn’t think you would have done.”
“Did you stay until the end?”
“Yeah. Jesse said we could stay here for the night, so we didn’t have too far to go.”
“Sorry. Lord Jessop. Everyone calls him Jesse.”
“I see. Is he here now?”
“No, he’s in France. Spends quite a bit of his time there, down in Antibes. We saw him last month when we did a tour there.”
“Yeah. The album’s selling really well there.”
“Was Lord Jessop at Brimleigh?”
“Sure. He went down to Antibes maybe last Tuesday or Wednesday.”
All of a sudden a loud, violent buzzing noise cut like a chain saw through Chadwick’s head.
“Sorry.” A sheepish Reg Cooper, lead guitarist, apologized. “Feedback.” He put his guitar down carefully. The noise ebbed slowly away.
“Boring you, am I, laddie?” said Chadwick.
“No,” Cooper muttered. “Not at all. I said I was sorry. Accident.”
Chadwick held Cooper’s gaze for a moment, then turned his attention back to Robin Merchant. “Let’s get back to the eighth of September,” he said. “We think the girl was killed between about one o’clock and twenty past one in the morning, while Led Zeppelin were playing a song called ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby.’” Such language came only with difficulty from Chadwick’s mouth, and he noticed some of the others smirk as he spoke the words. “I understand that they’re very loud,” he went on, ignoring them, “so it’s unlikely anybody heard anything, if there was anything to hear, but were any of you in Brimleigh Woods at that time?”
“The woods?” said Merchant. “No, we didn’t go there at all. We were backstage, up front in the press enclosure, or in the caravan.”
“All of you? All the time?” Chadwick scanned the others’ faces.
They all nodded.
“‘If you go down to the woods today…’” Vic Greaves intoned in the background.
“Why would we go to the woods, man?” said Adrian Pritchard. “All the action was backstage.”
“You know, man… the birds… the…”
“Shut up, Adrian,” said Merchant. He turned back to Chadwick and folded his arms. “Look, I know what preconceptions you coppers have of us, but we’re clean. You can search the place if you like. Go on.”
“I’m sure you are,” said Chadwick. “You knew we were coming. But I’m not interested in drugs. Not at the moment, anyway. I’m more interested in what you were doing when this girl died, and in whether any of you saw her or talked to her.”
“Well, I told you,” said Merchant. “We never went near the woods, and how do we know if we saw her or not when none of us knows her name or what she looked like.”
“You didn’t see the papers?”
“We never bother with them. Full of establishment lies.”
“Anyway,” Chadwick said, reaching for his briefcase. “I was getting to that. As it happens I now have a fairly recent photograph. It should interest you.” He took out the photograph of Linda with the members of the Mad Hatters and passed it to Merchant, who gasped and stared, openmouthed. “Is that… Vic?” He passed it to Vic Greaves, who still lay sprawled on a sofa smoking and looking, to Chadwick, quite out of it. Greaves stirred and took the photo. “Fuck,” he said. “Fucking hell.” And the photo slipped out his hands.
Chadwick went over and picked it up, standing over Greaves. “Who is it?” he asked. “You know her?”
“Sort of,” said Greaves. “Look, I don’t feel too good, Rob. My head, it’s… like snakes and things coming back, you know, man… like I need…” He turned away.
Merchant stepped forward. “Vic’s not too well,” he said. “The doctor says he’s suffering from fatigue, and his emotional state is pretty fragile right now. This must be a hell of a shock for him.”
“Why?” asked Chadwick, sitting down again.
He gestured toward the photo. “That girl. It’s Linda. Linda Lofthouse. She’s Vic’s cousin.”
Cousin. Mrs. Lofthouse had never mentioned that. But why should she? He hadn’t asked her about the Mad Hatters, and she had probably been in shock. Still, this was a new development worth following. Chadwick looked at Vic Greaves with more interest. By far the scruffiest of the bunch, he looked as if he hadn’t shaved in four or five days and his skin was deathly pale, as if he never saw the sun, his face dotted with angry red spots. His dark hair stuck out in tufts as if he had slept on it and not washed or combed it for a week. His clothes looked rumpled, slept-in, too. There was a well-thumbed paperback on the sofa beside him called Meetings with Remarkable Men.
“Were they particularly close?” Chadwick asked Robin Merchant.
“No, not really, I don’t think. I mean, you know, just cousins. She grew up in Leeds, and Vic’s family lived in Rochdale.”
“But we understand she lived in London,” Chadwick said. “Isn’t that where you all live now?”
“It’s a big place.”
Chadwick took a deep breath. “Mr. Merchant,” he said, “I appreciate that you lads are busy, not to mention famous, and no doubt wealthy. But a young girl has been brutally murdered at a festival in which you were taking part. She was seen backstage talking to two of you, and now it appears that one of you is also her cousin. Is there any particular reason Mr. Greaves over there is suffering from fatigue, that his emotional state is distressed? That’s exactly the kind of thing that killing someone might do to you.”
A stunned silence followed Chadwick’s controlled tirade. Greaves tossed on the sofa and his book fell to the floor. He put his head in his hands and groaned. “Talk to him, Rob, talk to him,” he said. “You tell him. I can’t handle this.”
“Look,” said Merchant. “Why don’t we take a walk outside, Inspector. I’ll answer all your questions as best I can. But can’t you see it’s upsetting Vic?”
Upsetting Vic Greaves was not Chadwick’s main concern, but he thought he might be able to get a bit more information out of Robin Merchant, who seemed the most levelheaded of the lot, if he did as requested. He gestured to Enderby to stay with the others and accompanied Merchant out to the flagged patio down the slope toward the swimming pool.
“Ever use it?” Chadwick asked.
“Sometimes,” Merchant answered with a smile. “For midnight orgies on the two days in August when it’s warm enough. Jesse tries to keep it cleaned up, but it’s difficult.”
“Lord Jessop isn’t a relation, too, is he?”
“Jesse? Good Lord, no. He’s a patron of the arts. A friend.”
They stood by the side of the pool looking out across the dale. Chadwick could see a red tractor making its way across one of the opposite fields toward a tiny farmhouse. The hillside was dotted with sheep. He glanced down at the swimming pool. A few early autumn leaves floated on the water’s scummy surface, along with a dead sparrow.
“All right, Mr. Merchant,” said Chadwick. “Am I to take it you’re the leader of the group?”
“Spokesman. We don’t believe in leaders.”
“Very well. Spokesman. That means you can speak for the others?”
“To some extent. Yes. It’s not that they can’t speak for themselves. But Vic, as you can see, is not exactly a social charmer, though he’s a great creative force. Adrian and Reg are okay but they’re not especially articulate, and Terry is way too hip to talk to the fuzz.”
“You sound educated.”
“I’ve got a degree, if that’s what you mean. English literature.”
“You’re not meant to be. It’s just a piece of paper.” Merchant kicked a couple of loose pebbles with his foot. They plopped into the swimming pool. “Can we get this over with? I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but we do have a tour to rehearse for. Contrary to what a lot of people think, rock bands aren’t just a random collection of layabouts with minimal musical ability and loud amplifiers. We take our music seriously, and we work hard at it.”
“I’m sure you do. I think if I ask you direct, simple questions and you answer them straightforwardly, we’ll soon be done here. How about that?”
“Fine. Ask away.” Merchant lit a cigarette.
“Was it Mr. Greaves who got the backstage pass for Linda Lofthouse?”
“It was me,” said Merchant.
“Vic’s not… I mean, as you can see, he doesn’t deal well with rules, people in authority, stuff like that. It intimidates him. It was his cousin, but he asked me to do it for him.”
“So you did?”
“She would have picked this up where?”
“At the entrance to the backstage area.”
“From security, I assume?”
That meant either they’d missed out on questioning the guard who had given Linda the pass, or he had forgotten or lied about it. Well, Chadwick thought, people lie often enough to the police. They don’t want to get involved. And there’s always that little bit of guilt everybody carries around with them.
“Could she come and go as she pleased?”
“What were you talking about when you were photographed with her?”
“Just asking if she was having a good time, that sort of thing. It was very casual. We only chatted for a couple of minutes. I didn’t even know that someone had taken a photo of us.”
“Was she having a good time?”
“So she said.”
“Was anything bothering her?”
“Not as far as I could tell.”
“What was her state of mind?”
“Fine. Just, you know, normal.”
“Was she worried about anything, frightened by anything?”
“Did you talk to her again after the photo was taken, later in the evening?”
“Only around, you know, from a distance.”
“Did she have a flower painted on her cheek later?”
Merchant paused for a moment, then said, “As a matter of fact, she did. At least, I think it was her. There was some bird doing body art in the enclosure.”
Well, Chadwick thought, there went one theory. Still, it would be useful to track down the “bird,” if possible, and establish for certain whether she had painted the flower on Linda’s cheek. “How well did you know Linda?”
“Not well at all. I’d met her in London a couple of times. Once when we were doing the album she got in touch with Vic through his parents and asked if she could sit in on the studio sessions with a friend. She’s interested in music – as a matter of fact we let her play a little acoustic guitar on one track, and her and her friend did some harmonies. They weren’t bad at all.”
“Just another bird. I didn’t really talk to her.”
“Did Linda ever go out with anyone in the group?”
“Come off it, Mr. Merchant. Linda Lofthouse was an exceptionally attractive girl, or hadn’t you noticed?”
“There’s no shortage of attractive girls in our business. Anyway, she didn’t strike me as the sort to take up with a rock musician.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that she seemed like a decent, well-brought-up girl, just a little brighter than most and with broader interests than her friends.”
“She had a baby.”
“You have to sleep with someone to get pregnant. She did it when she was fifteen, so how can you tell me that on the strength of two meetings she wasn’t ‘that’ sort of girl?”
“Call it gut instinct. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. She just seemed a nice girl, that’s all. Didn’t give off that kind of vibe. You get to recognize it, especially in this business. Take those three you saw when you came in.”
“So Linda wasn’t going out with anyone in the group?”
“What about the other groups at the festival?”
“She might have talked to people, but I didn’t see her hanging around with anyone in particular for very long.”
“What about Rick Hayes?”
“The promoter? Yeah, I saw her with him. She said she knew him in London.”
“Was he her boyfriend?”
“I doubt it. I mean, Rick’s a good guy, don’t get me wrong, but he’s a bit of a loser in that department, and they weren’t acting that way toward one another.”
Chadwick made a mental note. Losers in love often found interesting and violent ways to express their dissatisfaction. “Do you know if she had a boyfriend? Did she ever mention anyone?”
“Not that I recall. Look, have you ever thought that it was something else?”
“What do you mean?”
“They might have thought that it was something other than murder.”
“Figure of speech. Whoever did it.”
“You’ve lost me.”
“So I see. I don’t know. I’m just speculating. Not everyone sees the world the same way as you do.”
“I’m coming to realize that.”
“Well… you know… I mean, murder is just a word.”
“I can assure you it’s more than that to me.”
“Sorry. Sorry. I didn’t mean to be offensive. But that’s you. I’m just trying to show you that other people think differently.”
Chadwick was beginning to think he had wandered into a Wednesday Play. Desperate to get back to more tenable ground, he asked, “Do you know where she lived?”
Merchant seemed to come back from a long way off and gather his thoughts before answering in a tired voice. “She had a room on Powis Terrace. Notting Hill Gate. That’s what she said that time she came down to the studio, anyway.”
“You don’t know the number?”
“No. I wouldn’t even know the street except when she said Notting Hill I asked her about it, because it’s a great neighborhood. Everyone knows Notting Hill – Portobello Road, Powis Square and all that.”
Chadwick remembered Portobello Road from some leave he had spent in London during the war. “Expensive?”
“Bloody hell, no. Not for London, at any rate. It’s all cheap bedsits.”
“You said you met her a couple of times in London. When was the other time?”
“A gig at the Roundhouse last year. October, I think it was. One of the ones Rick Hayes promoted. Again, she asked Vic to get her and a friend backstage passes and he delegated it to me.”
“The same friend who sat in on the recording session with her?”
“Yeah. Sorry, but, like I said, I didn’t talk to her. I can’t remember her name.”
Chadwick stared out across the dale again. The tractor had disappeared. Cloud shadows raced across the fields and limestone outcrops as the breeze picked up. “Not much of a memory, have you, laddie?” he said.
“Look, I’m sorry if I’m not sounding helpful,” said Merchant, “but it’s the truth. Linda was never part of the entourage, and she wasn’t a groupie. She got in touch with Vic exactly three times over the past two years, just to ask for little favors. We didn’t mind. It was no problem. She was family, after all. But that’s all there was to it. None of us went out with her and none of us really knew her.”
“And that’s it?”
“Back to last Sunday. Where were you all between one and twenty past one that night?”
Merchant flicked his cigarette end into the swimming pool. “I don’t really remember.”
“Were you with the others listening to Led Zeppelin?”
“Some of the time, yeah, but they’re not really my thing. I might have been in the caravan reading, or in the beer tent.”
“That’s not much of an alibi, is it?”
“I wasn’t aware I’d need one.”
“What about the others?”
“They were around.”
“Your manager, Mr. Adams. Was he there?”
“Chris? Yeah, he was somewhere around.”
“But you didn’t see him?”
“I don’t really remember seeing him at any particular time, no, but I did see him now and then in passing.”
“So any one of you could have gone out to the woods with Linda Lofthouse and stabbed her?”
“But nobody had any reason to,” Merchant said. “We didn’t hang out with her, didn’t really know her. I just got the passes for her, that’s all.”
“You didn’t say this before.”
“You didn’t ask.”
“Who was the other pass for?”
“Her friend, the girl she was with.”
“The same one you saw her with at the Roundhouse and the recording session? The one whose name you can’t remember?”
“That’s the one.”
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?”
“If you got her a pass, you must know her name.”
“I didn’t look at it.”
“Did you see her later, at the festival?”
“Once or twice.”
“Were they together?”
“The first time I saw them, yes. Later on they weren’t.”
“What do you know about this girl?”
“Nothing. She was a friend of Linda’s and that they sang together in clubs. I think they shared a pad or were neighbors or something.”
“What does she look like?”
“About the same age as Linda. Long dark hair, olive complexion. Nice figure.”
“What time did you last see her?”
“I don’t know. When Pink Floyd were on. It must have been close to midnight.”
“And were the two of them together?”
“I didn’t see Linda then, no.”
“What was this other girl doing?”
“Just standing around with a group of people drinking and chatting.”
“Just people. Nobody in particular.”
So who was she? Chadwick wondered. And why hadn’t she reported her friend missing? Not for the first time he began to wonder about the mental faculties of the world he was dealing with. Didn’t these people care if someone stole their sleeping bag, or, worse, if someone close to them simply disappeared? He didn’t expect them to see the world as he did, with danger at every turn, but surely it was simple common sense to worry? Unless something had happened to her friend, too. He wouldn’t find that out by hanging around Swainsdale Lodge, he decided, and the thought of trying to talk to any of the others again brought on a headache.
Chadwick thanked Robin Merchant for his time, said he would have to talk to Vic Greaves at some point when he was feeling better, then they went back inside. Enderby, looking pleased with himself, held out a copy of the Mad Hatters LP and asked Merchant if he would sign it. He did. The others were slouching in their chairs smoking and sipping drinks, Reg Cooper picking a quiet tune on his guitar, Vic Greaves apparently asleep on his sofa, tranquilized to the gills. The sound system was buzzing in the background. Chris Adams showed them out, apologizing for Greaves and promising that if there was anything else they needed, they should just get in touch with him, gave them his phone number and left them at the door.
“Where did you get that?” Chadwick said in the car, pointing to the LP. “He gave it to me. The manager. I got them all to sign it.”
“Better hand it over,” said Chadwick. “You wouldn’t want anyone to think you’d been accepting bribes, would you?”
Chadwick held his hand out. “Come on, laddie. Give.”
Reluctantly, Enderby handed over the signed LP. Chadwick slipped it into his briefcase, suppressing a little smile as Enderby practically stripped the gears getting back to the road.
The MOJO office was a square open-plan area on the same floor as Q and Kerrang! magazines, accommodating about twenty or so people. There were two fairly large windows at one end, and two long desks equipped with Mac computers in various colors and stacked with CDs, reference books and file folders. Cluttered, but appealingly so. Filing cabinets fitted under the desks. Posters covered the walls, mostly blowups of old MOJO covers. The people Banks could see working there ran the whole gamut: short hair, long hair, gray hair, shaved heads. Dress was mostly casual, but there were even some ties in evidence.
Nobody paid Banks any attention as John Butler, the editor he had come to see, led him to a section of desk close to the window. An empty Prêt A Manger bag sat among the papers on his desk, and a whiff of bacon hung in the air, reminding Banks that it was mid-afternoon and he was starving. He could feel his stomach growling as he sat down.
John Butler looked to be in his late thirties and was one of the more casually dressed people in the office, wearing jeans and an old Hawkwind T-shirt. His shaved head gleamed under the strip lighting. There was music playing, some sixtyish piece with jangling guitars and harmonies. Banks didn’t recognize it, but he liked it. He could also hear the thumping bass of dance mix coming from round the corner. He thought it must be hard to concentrate on writing with all that noise going on.
“It’s about Nick Barber,” said Banks. “I understand he was working on an assignment for you?”
“Yes, that’s right. Poor Nick.” Butler’s brow crinkled. “One of the best. Nobody, and I mean nobody, knew more about late-sixties and early-seventies music than Nick, especially the Mad Hatters. He’s a great loss to the entire music community.”
“It’s my job to find out who killed him,” said Banks.
“I understand. Any help I can give, of course… though I don’t see how.”
“What was Nick Barber’s assignment?”
“He was doing a big feature on the Mad Hatters,” said Butler. “More specifically, on Vic Greaves, the keyboards player. Next year is the fortieth anniversary of when the band was formed, and they’re re-forming for a big concert tour.”
Banks had heard of the Mad Hatters. Not many people hadn’t. They had rebuilt themselves from the ashes of the sixties in a way that few other bands had, except perhaps Fleetwood Mac after Peter Green, and Pink Floyd after Syd Barrett left. But not without tremendous cost, as Banks recalled. “Where are they now?” he asked.
“All over the place. Most of them live in L.A.”
“Vic Greaves disappeared years ago, didn’t he?” Banks said.
“That’s right. Nick had found him.”
“How did he manage that?”
“He protected his sources pretty well, but I’d say most likely through a rental agency or an estate agent. He had his contacts. Vic Greaves doesn’t go to extraordinary lengths to stay anonymous, he’s just a recluse and he doesn’t advertise his presence. I mean, he’s been found before. The problem is that no one can ever get much out of him so they give up, except maybe some of the weirdos who see him as a sort of cult figure, which is why he guards his privacy to the extent that he does, or Chris Adams does. Anyway, however Nick did it, you can guarantee it wouldn’t be through Adams, the manager.”
“Adams is very protective of Greaves. Has been ever since the breakdown. They’re old friends, apparently, go back to school days.”
“Where did Nick find Greaves?”
“In North Yorkshire. The Hatters always had a strong connection with Yorkshire through Lord Jessop and Swainsview Lodge. Besides, Vic and Reg Cooper, the lead guitarist, were both local lads. Met the others at the University of Leeds.”
“North Yorkshire? How long has he been living there?”
“Dunno,” said Butler. “Nick didn’t say.”
So the object of Nick Barber’s pilgrimage had been right under his nose all the time, and he had never guessed. Well, why would he? If you wanted to live as a hermit in the Dales, it could be done. Now Banks had a glimmer of a memory. Something that he might have guessed brought Nick Barber to Swainsdale. “Help me here,” he said. “I didn’t grow up in the area, and I wasn’t there at the time, but as far as I can remember, there was some other connection with the group, wasn’t there?”
“Robin Merchant, the bass player.”
“He drowned, didn’t he?”
“Indeed he did. Drowned in a swimming pool about a year after Brian Jones did exactly the same thing. June 1970. Tragic business.”
“And that swimming pool was at Swainsview Lodge,” said Banks. “Now I remember.” He was surprised at himself for not getting the connection earlier, but when it came down to it, although he knew that Brian Jones had also died in a swimming pool, he didn’t know where that pool was, either. To him, a swimming pool was a swimming pool. But Nick Barber would know things like that, just the way sports fans knew their team’s scores, statistics and greatest players going back years.
“Swainsview Lodge has been empty for a few years now,” Banks said. “Ever since Lord Jessop died of AIDS in 1997. There were no heirs.” And nobody wanted the old pile of stone, Banks remembered. It cost too much to keep up, for a start, and it needed a lot of work. A couple of hotel chains had shown a brief interest, but the foot-and-mouth business had soon scared them off, and there was at one time talk of the lodge being converted into a convention center, but nothing had come of it. “Tell me more about Nick Barber,” he said.
“Not much to tell, really,” said Butler.
“How did he get into the business? According to his parents, he had no training in journalism.”
“This might sound a bit odd to you, but journalistic training is rarely encouraged in this line of work. Too many bad habits. Naturally, we require writing ability, but we judge that for ourselves. What counts most is love of the music.”
That would suit Banks right down to the ground, he thought, if only he could write. “And Nick Barber had that?”
“In spades. And he had in-depth knowledge on all sorts of genres, too, including jazz and some classical. Like I said, a remarkable mind, and a tragic loss.”
“How long had he been writing for you?”
“About seven or eight years, on and off.”
“And his interest in the Mad Hatters?”
“The last five years or so.”
“He seemed to live quite frugally, from what I’ve seen.”
“Nobody said music journalism pays well, but there are a lot of fringe benefits.”
“I didn’t mean that. Backstage passes to concerts, rubbing shoulders with the rock aristocracy, a bit of cachet with the girls, that sort of thing.”
“I think I’d rather have an extra hundred quid a week,” said Banks.
“Well, I suppose that’s one reason why this business isn’t for you.”
“Fair enough. Why didn’t he have a job on staff?”
“Didn’t want one. We’d have taken him on like a shot, as would the competition, but Nick wanted to keep his independence. He liked being a freelancer. To be quite frank, some people just don’t function at their best in an office environment, and I think Nick was one of them. He liked the freedom to roam, but he always delivered on deadline.”
Banks understood what Butler was talking about. Wasn’t that pretty much what Detective Superintendent Gervaise had said about him that very morning? Stay out of the office, but bring me results.
“How did he get the assignment?”
“He pitched for it. Funnily enough, we’d just had our monthly meeting and decided we wanted to do something on the Hatters. Anniversaries, reunion tours and things like that are usually a good excuse for a reappraisal, or a new revelation.”
“So he rang you?”
“Yes. Just when we were about to ring him. He’d written about them before, only brief pieces and reviews, but insightful. Look, I can give you a few back copies, if you’d like, so you can see the kind of thing he did.”
“I’d appreciate that,” said Banks, who knew that he had probably read some of Barber’s pieces in the past. But he didn’t keep his back issues of MOJO. The pile just got too high. “What was the next step?”
“We had a couple of meetings to sharpen things up and came up with a tight brief, a focus for the piece.”
“Which was to be Vic Greaves?”
“Yes. He’s always been the key figure, the mystery man. Troubled genius and all that. And the timing of his leaving couldn’t have been worse for the band. Robin Merchant had just drowned, and they were falling apart. If it hadn’t been for Chris Adams, they might have done. Nick was hoping to get an exclusive interview. That would have been a real scoop, if he could have got Greaves to talk. He also wanted to do something on their early gigs, before Merchant died and Greaves left, contrast their style with the later works.”
“How long would it take Barber to write a feature like that?”
“Anything from two to five months. There’s a lot of background research, for a start, a lot of history to sift through, a lot of people to talk to, and it’s not always easy. You also have to sort out the truth from the apocrypha, and that can be really difficult. You know what they say about the sixties and memory? What they don’t say is that if people can’t remember it, they make it up. But Nick was nothing if not thorough. He was a fine writer. He checked all his facts and his sources. Twice. There’s not a Mad Hatters gig he’d leave unexamined, not a university newspaper review he wouldn’t dig up, not an obscure B-side he wouldn’t listen to a hundred times.”
“How far had he got?”
“Hardly begun. He’d spent a week or two driving around, making phone calls, checking out old venues, that sort of thing. I mean, a lot of the places the original Hatters played don’t even exist anymore. And he might have done a bit of general background, you know, browsed over a few old reviews in the newspaper archives at the British Library. But he planned to get started on the main story up in Yorkshire. He’d only been there a week when… well, you know what happened.”
“Had he sent in any reports?”
“No. I’d spoken to him on the phone a couple of times, that’s all. Apparently he had to go into a public telephone box over the road to ring when he was in Yorkshire. He didn’t have any mobile signal up there.”
“I know,” said Banks. “How did he sound?”
“He was excited, but he was also very cagey. A story like this – I mean if Nick could really get Vic Greaves to open up about the past – well, if someone else got wind of it… you can imagine what that would mean. Ours can be a bit of a cutthroat business.”
“We really need to know where Vic Greaves lives,” said Banks.
“I understand that, and if I knew his address, I’d tell you. Nick mentioned a village called Lyndgarth in North Yorkshire. I’ve never heard of it, but apparently it’s near Eastvale, if that’s any help. That’s all I know.”
Banks knew that he ought to be able to find Vic Greaves in Lyndgarth easily enough. “I know it,” he said. “It’s very close to where Nick was staying. Walking distance, in fact. Do you happen to know if he had already spoken to Greaves?”
“It didn’t go well. According to Nick, Greaves freaked out, refused to talk, as usual, sent him packing. To be honest, I very much doubt you’ll get any sense out of him.”
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Nobody knows. He went strange, that’s all. Has been for years.”
“When did Nick talk to him?”
“He didn’t say. Sometime last week.”
“What day did he phone you?”
“Friday, Friday morning.”
“What was he going to do?”
“Talk to Greaves again. Work out a different approach. Nick was good. He’d simply tested the waters. He’d have found something to catch Greaves’s interest, some common ground, and he’d have taken it from there.”
“Have you any idea,” Banks asked, “why this story should have cost Nick Barber his life?”
“None at all,” said Butler, spreading his hands. “I still can’t really believe that it did. I mean, maybe what happened was nothing to do with the Hatters. Have you considered that? Maybe it was an irate husband. Bit of a swordsman, was our Nick.”
“Any husband in particular who might have wanted him dead recently?”
“Not that I know of. He never seemed to stick with anyone for long, especially if they started to get clingy. He liked his independence. And the music always got in the way. Most of our guys live alone in flats, when you get right down to it. They’d rather be ferreting out old vinyl on Berwick Street than go out with a girl. They’re loners, obsessed.”
“So Nick Barber would love ’em and leave ’em?”
“Something like that.”
“Maybe it was an irate girlfriend, then?”
Butler laughed uneasily.
Banks thought of Kelly Soames again, but he didn’t think she had killed Nick Barber, and not only because of the discrepancy in timing. There was still her father, though, Calvin Soames. He had disappeared from the pub for fifteen minutes, and nobody had seen him return to his farm in Lyndgarth to check the gas ring. Admittedly, it was a bad night, and the farm was off the beaten track, but it was still worth further consideration. The question was, had Soames been hiding the fact that he knew about Barber and Kelly? Banks couldn’t tell. And if he had done it, why take all Barber’s stuff?
When it came right down to it, though, Banks had a gut feeling that it was the Mad Hatters story that got Barber killed. He had no idea why. Unless you were a soul or a rap artist, music was generally a murder-free profession, and it was a bit of a stretch to imagine aging hippies going around bashing people over the head with pokers. But there it was. Nick Barber had headed to Yorkshire in search of a reclusive ex-rock star, had found him, and within days he had turned up dead, all his notes, mobile phone and laptop computer missing.
Banks thanked Butler for his time and said he might be back with more questions. Butler accompanied him back to the lift, stopping to pick out some back issues for him on the way. Banks walked out onto busy Oxford Street a little more enlightened than when he had entered Mappin House. He noticed that he was standing right outside HMV, so he went inside.
Monday, 15th September, 1969
The mood in the Grove was subdued that Monday evening. Somebody had turned out all the electric lights and put candles on every table. Yvonne sat at the back of the small room, near the door, with Steve, Julie and a bunch of others. McGarrity was there, though thankfully not sitting with them. At one point he took the stage and recited a T. S. Eliot poem. That was typical of him, Yvonne thought. He dismissed everybody else’s poetry, but didn’t even have the creativity to make up his own. There was a bit of talk about a concert in Toronto that Saturday, where John Lennon and Yoko had turned up to play with some legendary rock ’n’ roll stars, and some desultory conversation about the Los Angeles murders, but mostly people seemed to have turned in on themselves. They had known the previous Monday that something had happened at Brimleigh, of course, but now it was all over the place – and the victim’s name had been in that morning’s paper and on the evening news. Many people had known her, at least by name or by sight.
Yvonne was still stunned by the signed Mad Hatters LP her father had given her before she went out that evening. She couldn’t imagine him even being in the same room as such a fantastic band, let alone asking them to sign a copy of their LP. But he was full of surprises these days. Maybe there was hope for him yet.
McGarrity’s Eliot travesty aside, most of the evening was given over to local folksingers. A plump short-haired girl in jeans and a T-shirt sang “She Walks Through the Fair” and “Farewell, Farewell.” A curly-haired troubadour with a gap between his front teeth sang “The Trees They Do Grow High” and “Needle of Death,” followed by a clutch of early Bob Dylan songs.
There was a somber tone to it all, and Yvonne knew, although it was never said, that this was a farewell concert for Linda. Other people in the place had known her far better than Yvonne had; in fact she had sung there on more than one occasion when she visited her friends in Leeds. Everybody had looked forward to her visits. Yvonne wished she could be like that, the kind of person who had such a radiant spiritual quality that people were drawn to her. But she also couldn’t forget that someone had been drawn to kill her.
She remembered the photograph that had slipped out of her father’s briefcase: Linda with an expressionless face and eyes. The pathetic little cornflower on her cheek; Linda not at home; dead Linda, just a shell, her spirit soared off into the light. She felt herself well up with tears as she thought her thoughts and listened to the sad songs of long ago, ballads of murder and betrayal, of supernatural lovers, metamorphoses, disasters at sea and wasted youth. She wasn’t supposed to drink, but she could easily pass for eighteen in the Grove, and Steve brought her drinks like Babycham, Pony and Cherry B. After a while she started to feel light-headed and sick.
She made her way to the toilet and forced her finger down her throat. That helped. When she had finished she rinsed her mouth out, washed her face and lit a cigarette. She didn’t look too bad. On her way out she had to squeeze past McGarrity in the narrow corridor, and the look of cruel amusement on his face at her obvious discomfort frightened her. He paused, pressed up against her breasts, ran one dirty, nail-bitten finger down her cheek and whispered her name. It made her shiver.
When she got back to Steve and the others, it was intermission. She hadn’t brought up the subject of Linda with Steve yet, partly because she was afraid that he might have slept with her, and that would make Yvonne jealous. It shouldn’t. Jealousy was a negative emotion, Steve always said, to be cast aside, but she couldn’t help it. Linda was so perfect, and beside her Yvonne felt like a naive awkward schoolgirl. Finally, she made herself do it.
“Did you know Linda well?” she asked him as casually as possible.
Steve rolled a cigarette from his Old Holborn tin before answering. “Not really,” he said. “She’d gone before I came on the scene. I only saw her a couple of times when she came up from London and stayed at Dennis’s.”
“Bayswater Terrace? Is that where she lived?”
“Yeah. Before she went to London.”
“No, not with him, just at his pad, man.” Steve gave her a puzzled look. “What does it matter, anyway? She’s dead now. We have to let go.”
Yvonne felt flustered. “It doesn’t. It… I mean… I only met her once, myself, and I liked her, that’s all.”
“Everybody loved Linda.”
“Not everybody, obviously.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, somebody murdered her.”
“That doesn’t mean he didn’t love her.”
“I don’t understand.”
Steve stroked her arm. “It’s a complicated world, Von, and people do things for many reasons, often reasons we don’t understand, reasons they don’t even understand themselves. All I’m saying is that whoever did it didn’t necessarily do it from hatred or jealousy or envy, or one of those other negative emotions. It might have been from love. Or an act of kindness. Sometimes you have to destroy the thing you love the most. It’s not for us to question.”
Yvonne hated it when he talked down to her like that, as if she were indeed a silly schoolgirl who just didn’t get it. But she didn’t get it. To her, Linda had been murdered. No amount of talk about killing for love or kindness made any sense. Perhaps it was because she was a policeman’s daughter, she thought. In which case she had better stop sounding like one, or they would be onto her in a flash.
“You’re right,” she said. “It’s not for us to question.”
And the second half of the evening started. She could see McGarrity through the crowds, a dark shadow hunched in the candlelight, just to the right of the stage area, and she thought he was staring at her. Then a young man with long blond hair climbed on the tiny stage and began to sing “Polly on the Shore.”
In a booth in a noisy and smoky Italian restaurant on Frith Street, Banks and Annie shared fizzy water and a bottle of the house red, as Banks tucked into his veal marsala and Annie her pasta primavera. Outside, darkness had fallen and the streets and pubs and restaurants of Soho were filling up as people finished work, or arrived in the West End for an evening out. Red and purple lights reflected in the sheen of rain on the pavements and road.
“You’ve got a lot of explaining to do,” Annie said, fixing her hair behind her ears so it didn’t get in her mouth while she ate.
“About what?” said Banks.
“This Mad Hatters business. I hardly understood a word of what you were talking about before dinner.”
“It’s not my fault if your cultural education is severely lacking,” said Banks.
“Put it down to my callow youth and explain in words of one syllable.”
“You’ve never heard of the Mad Hatters?”
“Of course I have. I’ve even seen them on Jonathan Ross. That’s not the point. I just don’t happen to know their entire bloody history, that’s all.”
“They got big in the late sixties, around the same time as Led Zeppelin, a bit after Pink Floyd and the Who. Their music was different. It had elements of folk-rock, the Byrds and Fairport Convention, but they gave a sort of psychedelic twist to it, at first, anyway. Think ‘Eight Miles High’ meets ‘Sir Patrick Spens.’”
Annie made a face. “I would if I knew what either of those sounded like.”
“I give up,” said Banks. “Anyway, a lot of their sound and style was down to the keyboards player, Vic Greaves, the bloke we were talking about, who now lives in Lyndgarth, and the lead guitarist, Reg Cooper, another Yorkshire lad.”
“Vic Greaves was the keyboards player?”
“Yeah. He was a bit of a Keith Emerson, got amazing sounds out of his organ.”
Annie raised her eyebrows. “The mind boggles.”
“They had light shows, did long guitar solos, wore funny floppy hats and purple velvet trousers, gold caftans, and they did all that other sixties psychedelic stuff. Anyway, in June 1970, not long after their second album hit the charts, the bass player Robin Merchant drowned in Lord Jessop’s swimming pool at Swainsview Lodge.”
“Our Swainsview Lodge?”
“The one and only.”
“Was there an investigation?”
“I should imagine so,” said Banks. “That’s something we’ll have to dig up when we get back to Eastvale. There should be files in the basement somewhere.”
“Wonderful,” said Annie. “Last time I went down there I was sneezing for a week.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll send Kev.”
Annie smiled. She could imagine Templeton’s reaction to that, especially since he had become puffed up to an almost unbearable level since his promotion. “Maybe your folksinger friend will know something?” she asked.
“Penny Cartwright?” said Banks, remembering his last, unsatisfactory encounter with Penny on the banks of the river Swain one summer evening. “It was all long before her time. Besides, she’s gone away again. America, this time.”
“What happened to the Mad Hatters?”
“They got another bass player.”
“And what about Vic Greaves?”
“He’d been a problem for a long time. He was unpredictable. Sometimes he didn’t show up for gigs. He’d walk offstage. He got violent with other band members, with his girlfriends. They say there were times he just sat there staring into space, too stoned to play. Naturally, there were stories about the huge quantities of LSD he consumed, not to mention other drugs. He wrote a lot of their early songs and some of the lyrics are very… well, drug-induced, trippy, I suppose you’d say. The rest of the band were a bit more practical and ambitious, and they didn’t know what to do about him, but in the end they didn’t have to worry. He disappeared for a month in late 1970 – September, I think – and when they found him again he was living rough in the countryside like a tramp. He wanted nothing more to do with the music business, been a hermit ever since.”
“Did nobody do anything for him?”
“Help him get psychiatric help, for a start.”
“Different times, Annie. There was a lot of distrust of conventional psychiatry at the time. You had weirdos like R. D. Laing running around talking about the politics of insanity and quoting William Blake.”
“Blake was a visionary,” said Annie. “A poet and an artist. He didn’t take drugs.”
“I know that. I’m just trying to explain the prevalent attitudes as I understand them. Look, when everyone is weird, just how weird do you have to be to get noticed?”
“I’d say staring into space when you’re supposed to be playing keyboards is a pretty good place to start, not to mention beating up your girlfriend.”
“I agree there’s no excuse for violence, but people still turn a blind eye, even the victims themselves, sometimes. And there was a lot of tolerance within the community for drug consumption, bad trips and suchlike. As for the rest, odd behavior, especially onstage, might just have been regarded as nonconformist or avant-garde theatrics. They say that Syd Barrett from Pink Floyd once put a whole jar of Brylcreem on his head before a performance, and during the show it melted and dripped down his face. People thought it was some sort of artistic statement, not a symptom of insanity. Don’t forget, there were so many weird influences at play. Dadaism, surrealism, nihilism. If John Cage could write four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence, who’s to say Greaves wasn’t doing something similar by not playing? You ought to know this, given your bohemian background. Did nobody at your dad’s place ever paint a blank canvas?”
“I was just a kid,” said Annie, “but I do remember we had more than our fair share of freaks around. My dad always used to protect me from them, though. You’d be surprised in some ways how conservative my upbringing was. They went out of their way to instill ‘normal’ values in me. It was as if they didn’t want me to be too different, like them.”
“They probably didn’t want you to be singled out and picked on at school.”
“Ha! Then it didn’t help. The other kids still thought I was a freak. How did the Mad Hatters survive all this?”
“Their manager, Chris Adams, pulled it all together. He brought a replacement in, fiddled with the band’s sound and image a bit and, wham, they were off.”
“How did he change them?”
“Instead of another keyboards player, he brought in a female vocalist. Their sound became a bit more commercial, more pop, without losing its sixties edge entirely. They just got rid of that juvenile psychedelia. That’s probably the way you remember them, the nice harmonies. Anyway, the rest is history. They conquered America, became a big stadium band, youth anthems and all that. By the time they released their fourth album in 1973, they were megastars. Not all their new fans were aware of their early roots, but then not everyone knows that Fleetwood Mac was a decent blues band before Stevie Nicks and ‘Rhiannon’ and all that crap.”
“Hey, watch what you’re calling crap! I happen to like ‘Rhiannon.’”
Banks smiled. “Sorry,” he said. “I should have known.”
“Anyway, that’s the Mad Hatters story. And you say the girlfriend-”
“Melanie Wright said that Nick thought he’d got his teeth into a juicy story and that she felt it was somehow personal to him.”
“Yes. And he mentioned murder. Don’t forget that.”
“I haven’t,” said Banks. “Whose murder did he mean?”
“At a guess, from what you’ve just told me, I’d say Robin Merchant’s, wouldn’t you?”
Tuesday, 16th September, 1969
“I want to apologize to you about that Mad Hatters LP,” Chadwick said to DS Enderby over a late breakfast in the canteen on Tuesday morning. Geoff Broome had come up with an address on Bayswater Terrace, Enderby had driven down from Brimleigh, and they were fortifying themselves with bacon and eggs before the visit.
“It’s all right, sir,” said Enderby. “I got Pink Floyd to sign my copy of More last weekend. As a matter of fact, the Mad Hatters and even Floyd aren’t really my cup of tea. I’m actually more of a blues man myself.”
“Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chicken Shack, John Mayall.”
“Right,” said Chadwick, still no wiser. “Anyway, I am sorry. It was wrong of me.”
“You were probably right, though, about not being seen accepting gifts.”
“Well, I’d feel a bit better about saying that if I hadn’t gone and given it to my daughter.”
“You did what, sir?”
Chadwick looked away. “I gave it to my daughter. A few bridges to build, you know.”
Enderby burst out laughing. “I’m sorry, sir,” he said. “What did she say?”
“She seemed a bit shocked, but she was very grateful.”
“I hope she enjoys it.”
“She will. She likes them. And again… you know…”
“Don’t worry about it, sir. Probably the best use for it. I’m only glad I didn’t get them to sign it to me.”
“Look, Enderby, about these young people. You seem to take them in your stride, but they stick in my craw.”
“I’d noticed that, sir. It’s just a matter of perspective.”
“But I don’t understand them at all.”
“They’re just kids, mostly, having a good time. Some of them are political, and that can become violent if they mix with the wrong types, and now that unscrupulous dealers have moved in on the drugs trade, that can be dangerous, too. A lot of them are confused by the world, and they’re looking for answers. Maybe we think they’re looking in all the wrong places, but they’re looking. What’s so wrong with wanting peace in the world?”
“Nothing. But most of them come from decent homes, have parents who love them. Why on earth do they want to run off and live in filthy squats and squalid bedsits?”
“You really don’t get it, do you, sir?”
“That’s why I’m asking you, dammit.”
“Freedom. You know yourself how parents often disapprove of what their kids do and prevent them from doing it. These kids don’t mind a bit of dirt and mess as long as they can come and go as they please.”
“But what about the drugs, the sex?”
“That’s what they want! I mean, they couldn’t smoke pot and have sex if they lived with their parents, could they?”
Chadwick shook his head.
“It’s more than that, though,” Enderby went on. “Especially in the north. A lot of kids, girls like Linda Lofthouse, for example, they see a pretty bleak future waiting for them. Marriage, babies, dirty nappies, washing, cooking, a life of drudgery, slavery even. It can look a lot like a prison, if you’ve got a bit of imagination and intelligence, as it seems she had. And for the blokes it’s not that much different. Same boring job at the factory, day in day out, down at the same old pub with your same old cronies night after night. Footie on Saturdays, telly most nights. If they catch a glimpse of something else, if they’ve got a bit about them, you can see how it might appeal. An escape, perhaps? Something new. Something different.”
“But marriage and family are the cornerstones of our civilization.”
“I know that, sir. I’m just trying to answer your question. Put myself in their shoes. Marriage and family are our traditional values. A lot of kids today argue against them, say that’s why the world’s in the trouble it’s in. War. Famine. Greed. And girls these days think there ought to be more for them in life. They want to work, for example, and get paid as much as men for doing the same job.”
“They’ll be after our jobs before long.”
“I wouldn’t be too surprised, sir.”
“Freedom, eh?” said Chadwick. “Is that what it’s all about?”
“I think so, sir. A lot of it, at any rate. Freedom to think what you want and do what you want. The rest is just trappings, icing on the cake.”
“But what about responsibility? What about consequences?”
“They’re young, sir. Indestructible and immortal. They don’t worry too much about those sorts of things.”
“I thought freedom was what I was fighting for in the war.”
“It was, sir. And we won.”
“And this is the result?”
“All right,” said Chadwick. “I take your point. We’ll just have to live with it, then, won’t we? Another fried slice?”
“Don’t mind if I do, sir.”
Tuesday, 16th September, 1969
It was raining when Chadwick and Enderby paid their visit to Bayswater Terrace, and the rows of slate-roofed, redbrick houses looked suitably gloomy. DI Broome had found the number of the house they wanted easily enough. It wasn’t known as a drug house especially, though Broome had no doubt that drugs were consumed there, but the police had been looking for a dealer who had slipped through their net a few months ago, and they had visited all his possible known haunts, including this house, rented by a Dennis Nokes since early 1967. According to their information, the occupancy turnover was pretty high and included students, hippies and general layabouts. Nokes described himself as a student and a musician, but as far as anyone knew, he was on the dole.
After the previous day’s exhausting session with the Mad Hatters, Chadwick wasn’t looking forward to the interview. He also hadn’t been certain when was the best time to call to find somebody home. In the end he decided it didn’t matter, so they went around lunchtime. Either these people didn’t work or they were students, and the university term hadn’t started yet, so the odds were that someone would be there at almost any time of the day or night.
Chadwick could hear the sound of a solo acoustic guitar coming from inside the house, which was encouraging. It stopped when Enderby knocked on the door, and they could hear someone shuffling down the hall. It turned out to be a young girl, surely no older than Yvonne, wearing only a long grubby white T-shirt with a target on the front, which hardly covered her bare thighs. The top did nothing much to hide her breasts, either, as she clearly wasn’t wearing a bra.
“Police,” Enderby said. They showed their warrant cards and introduced themselves.
She didn’t looked scared or nervous, merely puzzled. “Police? Yeah. Right. Okay. Come in, then.” And she stood aside. When they were all inside the hall, she reached her arms in the air, pulling the T-shirt up even higher, and yawned. As he averted his gaze, Chadwick could see that Enderby made no effort to do likewise, that he was gazing with open admiration at her exposed thighs and pubic hair.
“You woke me up,” the girl said. “I was having a nice dream.”
“Who is it, Julie?” came a voice from upstairs, followed by a young man peering down from the landing, a guitar in his hand.
“Police,” said Julie.
“Okay, right, just a minute.” There was a short pause while the young man disappeared back into his room, then visited the toilet. Chadwick thought he could hear the sound of a few quids’ worth of marijuana flushing down the bowl. If he’d been drugs squad, the young lad wouldn’t have stood a chance. When he came down he was without his guitar. “What can I do for you?” he asked.
“Are you Dennis Nokes?”
“We’d like to talk to you. Is there somewhere we can go?”
Nokes gestured toward the rear. “Kitchen. Julie’s crashing in the front room. Go back to bed, Julie. It’s okay. I’ll take care of it.”
Chadwick could just about make out a sleeping bag, or a pile of blankets, on the floor before the door closed.
The kitchen was cleaner than Chadwick would have expected, but Janet would definitely have turned her nose up and gone at it with the Ajax and Domestos. The chairs were covered with some sort of red plastic material that had cracked and lined like parchment over time, and the table with a red-and-white-checked oilcloth, and on it lay a magazine called Oz with a photograph of a white man embracing a naked black man on the cover. Beside that stood an open jar of orange marmalade, rim encrusted with dried syrup, a half-wrapped slab of Lurpak butter and some bread crumbs. Nearby were a bottle of Camp coffee, salt and pepper shakers, a packet of Cocoa Krispies and a half-empty bottle of milk. Not to mention the overflowing ashtray, to which Dennis Nokes, by the looks of it, was soon to add.
They sat down and Enderby took out his notebook and pen.
“It’s only tobacco,” Nokes said as he rolled a cigarette. He had a tangle of curly dark hair and finely chiseled, almost pixieish, features, and he wore an open-necked blue shirt with jeans and sandals. A necklace of tiny different-colored beads hung around his neck, and a silver bracelet engraved with various occult symbols encircled his left wrist.
“It had better be,” Chadwick said. “Pity you had to flush everything you had down the toilet when that’s not what I came about.”
It only lasted a moment, but Chadwick noticed the look of annoyance that flashed across Nokes’s features before the practiced shrug. “I’ve got nothing to hide from the fuzz.”
“While we’re talking,” said Chadwick, “let’s agree on a few ground rules. It’s not fuzz, or pigs, it’s DI Chadwick and DS Enderby. Okay?”
“Whatever you want,” Nokes agreed, lighting the cigarette.
“Right. I’m glad we’ve got that out of the way. Now let’s get to the real subject of our visit: Linda Lofthouse.”
“Yes. I assume you’ve heard the news?”
“Bummer, man,” said Nokes. “I was trying to write a song for her when you guys arrived. It’s okay, I mean, I’m not blaming you for interrupting me or anything. It wasn’t going very well.”
“Sorry to hear that,” said Chadwick. “I don’t suppose you thought for a moment to come forward with information?”
“Why, man? I haven’t seen Linda in a while.”
“When was the last time?”
“Summer. July, I think. Same time Rick was up.”
“Rick Hayes, man. He put on the festival.”
“Was he with Linda Lofthouse in July?”
“Not with her, just here at the same time.”
“Did they know one another well?”
“They’d met, I think. Linda’s cousin’s Vic Greaves, you know, the keyboard player in the Mad Hatters, and Rick promoted some of their gigs in London.”
“Were they going out together?”
“No way, man.” Nokes laughed. “Linda and Rick? You must be joking. She was way out of his league.”
“I thought he made plenty of money from the concerts.”
“It’s not about money, man. Is that all you people ever think of?”
“So what was it about?”
“It was a spiritual thing. Linda was an old soul. Spiritually she was lifetimes ahead of Rick.”
“I see,” said Chadwick. “But they were here at the same time?”
“Yes. That time. Linda crashed here but Rick was staying in some hotel in town. Didn’t stop him trying to pick up some bird to take back with him, but he ended up going alone.”
“Why was he here?”
“I used to know him a few years ago, when I lived in London. We’re sort of old mates, I suppose. Anyway, he’d come up to check out something at Brimleigh Glen for the festival, so he dropped by to see me.”
Chadwick filed all that information away for his next talk with Rick Hayes, who was proving to be even more of a liar than he had at first appeared to be. “You say Linda hasn’t been here since July?”
“Have you seen her since then?”
“Were you at Brimleigh?”
“Of course. Rick scored us some free tickets.”
“Did you see her there?”
“Where were you between one and one-twenty on Sunday night?”
“How do you expect me to remember that?”
“Led Zeppelin had just started, if that refreshes your memory.”
“Yeah, right. I sat through the whole set in the same place. We were in the middle, quite near the front. We got there early on Friday and staked out a good space.”
“Who was with you?”
Nokes nodded toward the front room. “Julie there, and the others from the house. There were five of us in all.”
“I’ll need names.”
“Sure. There was me, Julie, Martin, Rob and Cathy.”
“Full names, please, sir,” DS Enderby interrupted. Nokes gave him a pitying look and told him.
“Are any of the others at home now?” Chadwick asked.
“We’ll send someone over later to take statements. Now about Linda. Did she stay here around the time of the festival?”
“No. She knows she’s welcome here anytime she wants, man. She doesn’t have to ask, just turn up. But I don’t know where she was staying. Maybe in a tent or out on the field or something. Maybe she was with someone. Maybe they had a car. I don’t know, man. All I know is this is freaking me out.”
“Stay calm, Mr. Nokes. Try a few deep breaths. I hear it works wonders.”
Nokes glared at him. “You’re taking the piss.”
“Not at all.”
“This is very upsetting.”
“What? That Linda was murdered or that you’re being questioned?”
Nokes ran the end of his index finger over some grains of salt on the tablecloth. “All of it, man. It’s just so heavy. You’re laying a real trip on us, and you’re way off course. We’re into making love, not killing.”
His whiny voice was starting to grate on Chadwick. “Tell me about Linda.”
“What about her?”
“When did you first meet?”
“Couple of years ago. Not long after I moved here, May, June 1967, around then.”
“And you came up from London?”
“Yeah. I was living down there until early ’67. I’d seen the sort of stuff that was happening, and thought I could make some of it happen up here. Those were really exciting times – great music, poetry readings, light shows, happenings. Revolution was in the air, man.”
“Back to Linda. How did you meet?”
“In town, in a record shop. We were both looking through the folk section, and we just got talking. She was so alone. I mean, she was changing, but she didn’t know it, trying to find herself, didn’t know how to go about it. Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Know what I mean?”
“So you helped her to find herself?”
“I invited her around here from time to time. I gave her a few books – Leary, Gurdjieff, Alan Watts. Played music for her. We talked a lot.”
“Did you sleep with her?”
“No way. She was six months pregnant.”
“Of course not.”
“How long did she stay here?”
“Not very long. After she’d had the baby she came here for a while, maybe a month or two the winter of ’67, then she went to London early in ’68. After that she’d crash here when she was up visiting.”
“What did she do?”
“What do you mean?”
“Work? Earn a living? Did she have a job?”
“Oh, that shit. Well, she didn’t when I first met her, of course. She was still living with her parents. Then the baby… Anyway, she made really beautiful jewelry, but I don’t think she got much money for it. Gave most of it away. Clothes, too. She could fix anything, and make a shirt from any old scraps of material. She was into fashion, too, did some of her own designs.”
“So how did she make money?”
“She worked in a shop. Biba. It’s pretty well known. They just moved to Kensington High Street. Do a lot of ’30s nostalgia stuff. You know the sort of thing: all floppy hats, ostrich feathers and long satin dresses in plum and pink.”
“Do you happen to know her address in London?”
Nokes gave him an address in Notting Hill.
“Did she live alone or share?”
“Alone. But she had a good friend living in the same house, across the hall. Came up here with Linda once or twice. American girl. Her name’s Tania Hutchison.”
“What does she look like?”
“Like a dream. I mean, she’s like a negative image of Linda, man, but just as beautiful in her own way. She’s got long dark hair, really long, you know. And she has a dark complexion, like she’s half Mexican or something. And white teeth. But all Americans have white teeth, don’t they?”
It sounded like the girl Robin Merchant had described. So what, if anything, did this Tania Hutchison have to do with Linda Lofthouse’s murder?
There was nothing more to be got from Dennis Nokes, so Chadwick gave Enderby the signal to wrap up the interview. He would send someone to talk to the others later. He didn’t really think that Nokes and his pals had had anything to do with Linda Lofthouse’s murder, but now he at least knew where she had been living, and this Tania woman might be able to tell him something about Linda’s recent life. And death.
Before heading to interview Vic Greaves the following day, Banks first called at Swainsview Lodge out of curiosity, to soak up the atmosphere. He got the keys from the estate agent, who told him they had kept the place locked up tight since there had been reports from local farmers of someone breaking in. She thought it was probably just kids, but the last thing they needed, she said, was squatters or travelers taking occupation of the place.
Entering the cold and drafty hallway, Banks felt as if he were entering one of those creepy mansions from the old Roger Corman films of Poe stories, The Fall of the House of Usher, or something. The long wainscoted hallway had paneled doors opening off each side, and there were obvious spaces on the walls where paintings had once hung. Banks tried some of the doors and found they opened to empty rooms in varied states of disrepair. Bits of ceiling had crumbled, and a veneer of plaster dust lay over everything. Banks kicked clouds of it up as he walked, and it made him cough, made his mouth dry.
At the end of the hall a moth-eaten, dusty old curtain covered French windows. Banks fiddled for the key and opened them. They led out to a broad empty balcony. Banks walked out and leaned against the cool stone of the balustrade to admire the view. Below him lay the empty granite-and-marble swimming pool, its dark bottom clogged with weeds, lichen and rubbish. Lower down the hillside the trees on the banks of the river Swain were red and brown and yellow. Some of the leaves blew off and swirled in the wind as Banks watched. Sheep grazed in the fields of the opposite daleside, dots of white on green among the irregular patterns of drystone walls. The clouds were so low, they grazed the limestone outcrops along the top and shrouded the upper moorland in mist.
Wrapping his arms around himself against the autumn chill, Banks went back inside the building and headed downstairs to the lower level, where he found himself in a cavernous room that he guessed must have been used as the recording studio. So this was where the Mad Hatters had recorded their breakthrough second album during the winter of 1969-1970, and several others over the years. There was no equipment left, of course, but there were still a few strips of wire lying around, along with a broken drumstick, and what looked like a guitar string. Banks strained but could hear no echoes of events or music long past.
He unlocked the doors and walked out to the edge of the swimming pool. There was broken glass on the courtyard and bottles and cans at the bottom of the pool, where it sloped down to the deep end. Banks saw what the estate agent meant, and guessed that local kids must have climbed the wall and had a party. He wondered if they knew the house’s history. Maybe they were celebrating Robin Merchant the way the kids flocked to Jim Morrison’s tomb in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Banks doubted it. He thought he heard a sound behind him, in the abandoned recording studio, and turned in time to see a mouse skitter through the dust.
He tried to imagine the scene on that summer night thirty-five years ago. There would have been music, and probably lights strung up outside, around the pool. Incense. Drugs, of course, and alcohol, too. By the early seventies, booze was coming back in fashion among the younger generation. There would also have been girls, half undressed or more, perhaps, laughing, dancing, making love. And when everyone was sated, Robin Merchant had… well, what had happened? Banks didn’t know yet. Kev Templeton was still in the basement of Western Area Headquarters going through the archives.
A gust of wind rattled the open door and Banks went back inside. There was nothing for him here except ghosts. Lord Jessop was dead of AIDS, poor sod, and Robin Merchant had drowned in the swimming pool. The rest of the Mad Hatters were still very much alive, though, and Vic Greaves was around somewhere. If he would talk. If he could talk. Banks didn’t know exactly what the official diagnosis was, only that everyone claimed he’d taken too much acid and gone over the top. Well, in a short while, with a little skill and a little luck, he would find out.
Wednesday, 17th September, 1969
It was a long time since Chadwick had walked along the Portobello Road. Wartime, in fact, one of the times he had been back on leave between assignments. He was sure the street had been narrower then. And there had been sandbags, blackout curtains, empty shop windows, rubble from bomb damage, the smell of ash, fractured gas lines and sewage pipes. Now the biggest mess was caused by construction on the Westway, an overhead motorway that was almost completed, and most of the smells were exotic spices that took him back to his days in India and Burma.
Chadwick had taken the afternoon train down to King’s Cross, a journey of about five hours. Now it was early evening. The market had closed for the day; the stallholders had packed up their wares and gone to one of the many local pubs. Outside the Duke of Wellington a fire-eater entertained a small crowd. The atmosphere was lively, the people young and colorful in brightly printed fabrics, flared jeans with flowers embroidered on them, or gold lamé caftans. Some of the girls were wearing old-fashioned wide-brimmed hats and long dresses trailing around their ankles. There were quite a few West Indians wandering the street, too, some also in bright clothes, with beards and fuzzy hairdos. Chadwick was sure he could smell marijuana in the air. He was also sure he looked quite out of place in his navy blue suit, although there were one or two business types mingling with the crowds.
According to his map, there were quicker ways of getting to Powis Terrace than from the Notting Hill Underground station, but out of interest he had wanted to wander up and down Portobello Road. He had heard so much about it, from the Notting Hill race riots of over ten years ago to the notorious slum landlord Peter Rachman, connected to both the Kray twins and the Profumo affair of 1963. The area had history.
Now the street was full of chic boutiques, hairdressers and antique shops with bright-painted facades. There was even a local fleapit called the Electric Cinema, showing a double bill of Easy Rider and Girl on a Motorcycle. One shop, Alice’s Antiques, sold Edwardian policemen’s capes, and for a moment Chadwick was tempted to buy one. But he knew he wouldn’t wear it; it would just hang at the back of his wardrobe until the moths got at it.
Chadwick turned down Colville Terrace and finally found the street he was looking for. At the end of the block someone had drawn graffiti depicting Che Guevara, and underneath the bearded face and beret were the words LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION in red paint, imitating dripping blood. The terraced houses, once majestic four-story Georgian-style stucco, were now dirty white, with stained and graffiti-covered facades – THE ROAD OF EXCESS LEADS TO THE PALACE OF WISDOM and CRIME IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF SENSUALITY. Rubbish littered the street. Each house had a low black metal railing and gate, which led down murky stone steps to the basement flat. The broad stairs leading up to the front door were flanked by two columns supporting a portico. Most of the doors looked badly in need of a paint job. Chadwick had heard that the houses were all divided into a warren of bedsits.
There were several names listed beside the intercom at the house he wanted. Chadwick had timed his visit for early evening, thinking that might be the best time to find Tania Hutchison at home. The problem was that he didn’t want her to be warned of his visit. If she had had anything to do with Linda’s murder, then there was a chance she would scarper the minute she heard his voice. He needed another way in.
Tania’s flat, he noted, was number eight. He wondered how security-conscious the other tenants were. If drugs were involved, probably very, though if someone was under the influence… He decided to start with the ground floor and after getting no answer went on up the list. Finally he was rewarded by a bad connection with an incomprehensible young man in flat five, who actually buzzed the door open.
The smell of cats’ piss and onions was almost overwhelming; the floor was covered with drab cracked lino and the stair carpet was threadbare. If it had had a pattern once, it was indiscernible from the dull gray background now. The walls were also bare, apart from a few telephone numbers scribbled around the shared pay phone. Out of habit, Chadwick made a note of them.
Now he just had to find number eight. It wasn’t on the ground floor, nor the first, but on the second floor, facing the front. That landing had another shared pay phone, and again Chadwick copied down the numbers. It smelled a little better up here, mostly due to the burning incense coming from one of the rooms, but the bulb was bare and cast a thankfully weak light on the shabby decor. Chadwick could hear soft music coming from inside number eight, guitars and flutes and some sort of oriental percussion. A good sign.
He tapped on the door. A few moments later, it opened on the chain. He wasn’t in yet, but he was close. “Are you Tania Hutchison?” he asked.
“I’m Tania,” she said. “Who wants to know?”
Chadwick thought he detected an American accent. Only a thin strip of her face showed, but he could see what Dennis Nokes had meant about her good looks. “I’m Detective Inspector Chadwick,” he said, holding up his warrant card. “It’s about Linda Lofthouse.”
“Linda? Of course.”
“Do you mind if I come in?”
She looked at him for a moment – he could see only one eye – and he sensed she was calculating what was her best option. In the end the door shut, and when it opened again it opened all the way. “All right,” she said.
Chadwick followed her into an L-shaped room, the smaller part of which was taken up with a tiny kitchen. The rest was sparsely furnished, perhaps because there was so little space. There was no carpet on the floor, only old wood. A mattress covered in red cheesecloth and scattered with cushions sat against one wall, and in front of that stood a low glass table holding a vase of flowers, a copy of the Evening Standard, an ashtray and a book called The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse. Chadwick had never heard of Hermann Hesse, but he had the feeling he would be safer sticking to Dick Francis, Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley. An acoustic guitar leaned against one wall.
Tania stretched out on the mattress, leaning against the wall, and Chadwick grabbed one of the hard-backed kitchen chairs. The room seemed clean and bright, with a colorful abstract painting on the wall and a little light coming in through the sash window, but there was no disguising the essential decrepitude of the house and neighborhood.
The woman was as Dennis Nokes and Robin Merchant had described her, petite, attractive, with white teeth and glossy dark hair down to her waist. She was wearing flared jeans and a thin cotton blouse that left little to the imagination. She reached for a packet of Pall Mall filter-tipped and lit one. “I just found out yesterday,” she said, blowing out smoke. “About Linda.”
“The newspaper. I’ve been away.”
It made sense. Chadwick had only discovered Linda Lofthouse’s identity from Carol Wilkinson on Saturday, so it hadn’t really hit the papers and other news media until Monday, and now it was Wednesday, ten days since the Brimleigh Festival had ended and the body was discovered. Looking at Tania, he could see that she had been crying; the tears had dried and crusted on her flawless olive skin, and her big green eyes were glassy.
“Where were you?” Chadwick asked.
“In France, with my boyfriend. He’s studying in Paris. The Sorbonne. I just got back yesterday.”
“I assume we could check that?”
“Go ahead.” She gave him a name and a telephone number in Paris. It wasn’t much use to Chadwick. The guy was her boyfriend, after all, and he would probably swear black was white for her. But he had to go through the motions.
“You were at Brimleigh, though?”
“That’s what I want to talk about.”
Tania blew out some smoke and reached for the ashtray on the table, cradling it on her lap between her crossed legs.
“What happened there?” Chadwick went on.
“What do you mean, ‘What happened there?’ Lots of things happened there. It was a festival, a celebration.”
“Youth. Music. Life. Love. Peace. Things you wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Chadwick. “I was young once.” He was getting used to being criticized by these people for being old and square, and as it didn’t bother him in the least, it seemed easier just to brush it aside with a glib comment, like water off a duck’s back. What he still didn’t understand, though, despite Enderby’s explanation, was why intelligent young people from good homes wanted to come to places like this and live in squalor, probably hardly eating a healthy meal from one day to the next. Were all the sex and drugs you wanted worth such a miserable existence?
Tania managed a little smile. “It was different then.”
“You can say that again. Swing. Jitterbug. Glenn Miller. Tommy Dorsey. Henry Hall. Harry Roy. Nat Gonella. Al Bowlly. Real music. And the war, of course.”
“We choose not to fight in wars.”
“It must be nice to believe that you have a choice,” said Chadwick, feeling the anger rise the way it did when he heard such pat comments. He was keen to steer back to the topic at hand. They’d sidetrack you, these people, put you on the defensive, and before you knew it you’d be arguing about war and revolution. “Look, I’d just like to know the story of you and Linda: how you came to be at Brimleigh, why you didn’t leave together, what happened. Is that so difficult?”
“Not at all. We drove up on Sunday morning. I’ve got an old Mini.”
“Just the two of you?”
“That’s about all you can fit in a Mini if you want to be comfortable.”
“And you were only there for the one day?”
“Yes. The Mad Hatters said they could get backstage passes for us, but only for the day they were there. That was Sunday. To be honest, we didn’t really feel like sitting around in a muddy field in Yorkshire for three days.”
That was about the first sensible thing Chadwick had heard a young person say in a long time. “When did you arrive?”
“Were the Mad Hatters there already?”
“They were around.”
“What did you do?”
“Well, it was great, really. We got to park where the bands parked, and we could just come and go as we pleased.”
“What was going on back there?”
“Music, mostly, believe it or not. When the bands were playing you could get around the front, in the press enclosure, if there was room. That was where you got the best view in the entire place.”
“The rest of the time?”
“It’s sort of like a garden party round the back. You know, a beer tent, food, tables and chairs, someone plucking on a guitar, conversation, jamming, dancing. Like a big club and a restaurant rolled into one. It got a bit chaotic at times, especially between bands when the roadies were running back and forth, but mostly it was great fun.”
“I understand there were caravans for some of the stars.”
“People need privacy. And, you know, if you wanted somewhere to go and… Well, I don’t have to spell it out, do I?”
“Did you go to a caravan with anyone?”
Her eyes widened and her skin flushed. “That’s hardly a question a gentleman would ask of a lady. And I can’t see as it has any bearing on what happened to Linda.”
“So nobody needed to go into the woods for privacy?”
“No. It was like we had our own little community, and there was no one there to lay down the law, to tell us what to do. A perfect anarchist state.”
Chadwick thought that was something of a contradiction in terms, but he didn’t bother pointing it out. He didn’t want to get sidetracked again. “Who did you spend your time with?” he asked.
“Lots of people. I suppose I was with Chris Adams a fair bit. He’s the Hatters’ manager. A nice guy. Smart and sensitive.” She smiled. “And not too stoned to have a decent conversation with.”
Interesting, Chadwick thought, that Adams hadn’t mentioned this. But why would he? It would only connect him with events from which he wanted to distance himself and his group. “Were you with him during Led Zeppelin’s performance?”
Tania frowned. “No. I was out front, in the press enclosure. I suppose he might have been there, but it was really crowded and dark. I don’t remember seeing him.”
“You’re American, I understand,” Chadwick said.
“Canadian, actually. But a lot of people make that mistake. And don’t worry, I’m here legally, work permit and all. My parents were born here. Scotland. Strathclyde. My father was a professor at the university there.”
A professor’s daughter, no less. And no doubt they had moved to Canada because he was better paid over there. Even less reason, then, for Tania to be spending her days in a tiny, shabby bedsit in Notting Hill. “So what about Linda?” he asked. “Did she disappear into any caravans?”
“Not that I saw. Look, Linda got a bit claustrophobic, developed a headache, and when Led Zeppelin came on, she told me she was going for a walk in the woods. I told her I’d probably be heading back home as soon as they finished because I wanted to catch a bit of sleep before taking the ferry over to see my boyfriend, Jeff. She told me not to worry about her, she had friends she could stay with. I knew that. I’d been up with her before and met them. It was a place in Leeds, where she used to live before she moved to London.”
“That sounds right.”
“So she told you she would stay there?”
“Not in so many words. Only that she wasn’t planning on heading back to London with me that night.”
“I guess there were just people she wanted to see. I mean, it was where she came from. Home, I guess.”
“Did you see any of these people from the house with her at the festival?”
“No. Like I said, we had backstage passes. We were in with the bands. We didn’t know anybody there apart from Vic, Robin, Chris and the rest. Didn’t even know them very well. Look, as you can imagine, it got a bit wild at times, like all parties do. Linda slipped away. I didn’t see her again.”
“Did she have a flower painted on her face when she left you?”
Tania looked puzzled. “Flower? I don’t think so. I don’t know. It was dark. I don’t remember.”
“Would you have noticed?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. Lots of girls had flowers painted on their faces. Is it important?”
“It could be.” Chadwick remembered Robin Merchant saying that Linda did have the flower on her face when he last saw her. “How was she going to get to Leeds? It was the middle of the night.”
“Hitch a ride. There were plenty of people heading that way. Most of the crowd came from Leeds or Bradford. Stands to reason.”
“Was this your original plan? For her to stay in Leeds, hitch a ride?”
“Plan? We didn’t have a plan. It was all pretty spontaneous. I mean, she knew I was going to Paris on Monday and I had to drive back Sunday night, but she also knew she could come back down to London with me in the Mini if she wanted.”
“And what did you do?”
“After Zeppelin finished, I went round the back again, hung around awhile and waited for her. There was still a party going on backstage, but people were leaving fast. I didn’t see her, so I assumed she’d headed off to Bayswater Terrace. I got in my car and drove back down here. It was about four in the morning by the time I left and I got home about nine. I slept till two, then drove to Dover and took the ferry to Calais.”
“You must have been tired.”
“Don’t you have a job?”
“I’m between jobs. I’m a temp. I happened to be good at typing at school. I can choose my own hours now.”
“But what about education? You said your father was a professor. Surely he would want you to go to university?”
She gave him a curious, almost pitying look. “What my father wants doesn’t come into it,” she said. “It’s my life. I might go to university one day, but it’ll be when I want to, not when someone else decides for me.” Tania shook her hair back and lit another cigarette.
Chadwick thought he saw a mouse scurry across the kitchen floor. He gave a little shudder. It wasn’t that mice scared him, but the idea of living with them held no appeal. “I’d like to know more about Linda,” he said. “I understand she was a shopgirl?”
Tania laughed. “‘Shopgirl.’ How very quaint and English. I suppose you could say that. She worked at Biba, but she wanted to be a designer. She was good, too.”
“Wouldn’t they be worried about her not coming back?”
“She took the week off.”
“So there was a plan?”
“There were possibilities, that’s all. There were some people in St. Ives she wanted to see. Maybe she was going to stay in Leeds a few days, see her friends and her mother and then go down there. I don’t know. She also had a friend living on Anglesey she wanted to visit. What can I say? Linda was a spontaneous sort of person. She just did things. That’s why I wasn’t worried about her. Besides, you don’t think… I mean, we were with people who are into love and peace and all that, and you just don’t expect…” Tears ran down her cheek. “I’m sorry,” she said. “This is all too much.”
Chadwick gave her a few minutes to compose herself and wipe away the tears, then he said, “When Linda left the enclosure for the woods, did you see anyone follow her?”
Tania thought for a moment, sucked at her cigarette and flicked some ash. “No,” she said.
“Did you see anyone else go out around that time?”
“Not that I remember. Most of us were excited about Led Zeppelin, getting ready to go round the front and get our minds blown.”
“Could she have arranged to meet someone? Could the headache have been an excuse?”
Tania gave him a blank look. “Why would she? If she’d been going to meet someone, she’d have said so. It wasn’t Linda’s way to be sly and sneaky.”
Christ, Chadwick thought, it was a lot easier when you were dealing with ordinary folk, most of whom lied and cheated as easily as they breathed, rather than this lot with their fancy ideals and high-handed attitudes. “Did you notice anyone paying her undue attention?” he asked.
“Linda’s a beautiful girl. Of course there were people talking to her, maybe trying to make an impression, pick her up.”
“But nobody succeeded?”
Tania paused. “Linda wasn’t seeing anyone this past while,” she answered. “Look, I’ve seen what the newspapers say about us. The News of the World, the People, trash like that. They paint us as being some sort of drug-addled and sex-crazed subculture, nothing but orgies and excess. Well, some people might be like that, but Linda was a very spiritual person. She was into Buddhism, the cabala, yoga, astrology, tarot, all sorts of spiritual stuff, and sometimes she just… you know… sex wasn’t always a part of it for her.”
“Out of the picture, too. I’m not saying she’d never smoked a joint or dropped a tab of acid, but not for a while. She was moving on, evolving.”
“I understand the two of you performed musical duets together?”
Tania looked at him as if she didn’t understand, then she managed a brief smile. “Performed musical duets? We sang together sometimes, if that’s what you mean, just in folk clubs and such.”
“Can I have a look at Linda’s flat?”
Tania bit her lip. “I don’t know. I shouldn’t. I mean…”
“You can come with me, keep an eye on me. It’ll have to be done eventually. Officially.”
Finally, Tania said, “Okay. I’ve got a key. Come on.”
She led him across the hall. Linda’s room was the same shape as Tania’s, but like a mirror image. It was more luxuriously furnished, with a couple of patterned rugs on the floor and a stylized painting of a man sitting cross-legged under a tree, surrounded by strange symbols, on the wall. Chadwick recognized the signs of the zodiac from the newspaper horoscopes Janet read. There was also a small bookcase full of volumes on mysticism and the spiritual life and packs of variously scented joss sticks. An acoustic guitar, similar to the one in Tania’s room, leaned against the wall.
Linda also had a small record player, and beside it stood a stack of LPs similar to those Yvonne had. There was nothing really personal in the room, at least not that Chadwick could find. One drawer held a couple of letters from her mother and some old photographs taken with her father. There were no diaries or notebooks – whatever she had been carrying with her at Brimleigh had disappeared – and very little else apart from her birth certificate and post office book showing that she had £123 13s 5d in her account, which seemed rather a lot to Chadwick. She had also set up a sewing machine at a makeshift table, and there were a few bolts of printed fabric lying around. In her small wardrobe hung many long dresses and skirts of bright print fabrics and other materials.
He searched under the drawers and tried the cupboards and wardrobe for false bottoms but found nowhere that might have provided a good hiding place for drugs. If Tania knew this was what he was doing, she didn’t say anything. She just leaned against the doorjamb with her arms folded.
As far as food was concerned, the pickings were slim. Linda had no oven, only a gas burner beside the little sink, and the contents of her cupboard consisted of brown rice, chickpeas, muesli, tahini, mung beans and various herbs and spices. There was no refrigerator, either, and no sign of meat, vegetables or dairy products, except for a bottle of sterilized milk on the table. Frugal living indeed.
Frustrated, Chadwick stood by the door and gave one last look around. Still nothing.
“What will happen to it now?” Tania asked.
“I suppose it’ll be relet eventually,” he said. “For the moment I’ll get the local police to come in and seal it off until we’ve done a thorough search. What do you know about Rick Hayes?”
Tania locked Linda’s door and led Chadwick back to her room, where they resumed their previous positions.
“Rick Hayes, the promoter?”
“That’s the one.”
“Nothing much. I chatted with him a couple of times. He’s a bit of a creep. If you must know, he tried to pick me up, suggested we go to his caravan.”
“I told him to get lost.”
“How did he react?”
“He laughed and said he liked a girl who spoke her mind. Look, Hayes is one of those men who asks every girl he meets to sleep with him. He thinks the odds are pretty good. If nine out of ten tell him what they think of him, or slap his face, there’s always the tenth who might say yes.”
“He knew Linda, is that right?”
“They’d met before, yes. Once we went backstage at a Mad Hatters concert at the Roundhouse and Rick was there. He’s harmless enough, really. To be honest, he’s far too taken with himself to really give much thought to anyone else.”
“But if someone he wanted turned him down, do you think he could get violent?”
Tania gave him a sharp look. “I… I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never really thought about it. He’s got a bit of a temper. I saw him laying into one of the security guards, but that was just… I don’t know, some sort of a power trip, I thought. You’re not suggesting he might have killed Linda because she wouldn’t let him fuck her?”
If the word was meant to shock Chadwick, it did. He wasn’t used to such language coming from the mouths of such lovely young women. He was damned if he was going to give her the satisfaction of a reaction, though. “Did you see him leave the enclosure during the time you were there?”
“No. Mostly he was coordinating with the performers and roadies, making sure the equipment got set up right and everything went smoothly. There were a few problems with the PA system and so on that he also had to deal with. And he acted as MC, introducing the bands. He was really pretty busy all the time. I don’t think he’d have had a chance to slip away even if he’d wanted to.”
“So he was always in sight?”
“Pretty much. Not always, but most of the time you’d see him out the corner of your eye here and there, running around. There was always somebody wanting him for something.”
“Where was he while Linda was in the woods?”
“I don’t know. Like I told you, I went round to the front to get a good view.”
“Was he there?”
“No. He introduced the band, then he left the stage.”
“Did you see him after that?”
“Come to think of it, no. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe he could have had anything to do with what happened.”
“Probably not,” said Chadwick, standing to leave. “It just pays to cover all the angles, that’s all.” He lingered at the door. “Before I leave, tell me how Linda was behaving these past few weeks.”
“What do you mean?”
“Did anything out of the ordinary happen?”
“Was she upset, depressed or worried about anything?”
“No, she was her usual self. She was saving up to go to India. She was really excited about that.”
Chadwick, who had spent time in India before seeing action in Burma during the war, didn’t understand what there was to get excited about. As far as he was concerned, the place was filthy, hot and unsanitary. Still, it explained the reason for the £123 13s 5d in her post office account. “Is that all?”
“As far as I know.”
“Had she fought or argued with anyone recently?”
“Not that I know. I doubt it, anyway.”
“Linda didn’t like scenes or arguments. She was a peaceful person, easygoing.”
“Did anyone threaten her in any way?”
“Good Lord, no.”
“Was anybody bothering her?”
“No. The only thing that was at all upsetting her was Vic Greaves. They weren’t close or anything, but they were family, and on the two or three occasions we saw the Mad Hatters, he seemed to be getting worse. She thought he ought to be getting treatment, but whenever she mentioned it to Chris, he just said shrinks were government brainwashers and mental hospitals were prisons for the true visionaries. I suppose he had a point.”
“Did either you or Linda try to do anything about Greaves?”
“What do you mean?”
“Persuade him to get treatment.”
“Linda did once, but he refused point-blank.”
“Did you try to change Chris Adams’s mind?”
“It wasn’t his decision,” Tania said. “Look, nobody was going to be party to getting Vic Greaves certified. Simple as that.”
“I see,” said Chadwick. The decision didn’t surprise him after the time he had spent with the Mad Hatters. He would be talking to them again soon anyway. He opened the door and went into the hall. “Many thanks, Miss Hutchison.”
“I must say you seem to be one of the most sensible people I’ve talked to since all this began.”
Tania gave him an enigmatic smile. “Don’t count on it,” she said. “Appearances can be deceptive.”
Thursday, 18th September, 1969
Perhaps it was the spices he had smelled in Portobello Road that sparked it – they say smell is closest to memory – or maybe it was even going to see The Battle of Britain after his visit to Tania Hutchison that brought it all back, but Chadwick awoke in his hotel bed at 3:00 a.m. in a cold sweat. He couldn’t say that it was a dream, because it had actually happened, but he had buried it so deeply in his subconscious that when it rose up, as it did from time to time, it did so in a jumble of images so vivid they were almost surreal.
Buried under two bodies, mouth and nose full of sand on Gold Beach, the air all smoke and fire, bullets cracking and thudding into the sand nearby, blood seeping through his uniform, the man on top of him whimpering as he died, crying for his mother. Charging the bunkers with Taffy in Burma. Taffy wounded, his guts poking out, stumbling forward into the gunfire, diving into the bunker of Japanese soldiers, knowing he was going to die and pulling the pin on his hand grenade. Bits of people raining down on Chadwick: an eyeball, pieces of brain, blood and tissue.
And so it went on, a series of fragmented nightmare images from the Burmese jungle and the Normandy beaches. He not only saw and heard but smelled it all again in his dream – the gunfire, smoke, heat – tasted the sand in his mouth.
He feared that there would be no more sleep tonight, so he sat up, took the glass of water he had left on his bedside table and drank it down, then went to refill it. Still hours to go until dawn. And these were the worst hours, the hours when his fears got the better of him. The only solution was to get up and do something to take his mind off it all. He wasn’t going to go walking around King’s Cross at this hour in the morning, so he turned on the bedside light, took Alistair MacLean’s Force Ten from Navarone out of his overnight bag and settled back on the pillows to read. By the time the pale glow of sunrise started spreading over the city from the east, his book had fallen on his chest and he was snoring quietly in a dreamless sleep.
In a village like Lyndgarth, Banks knew, the best way to find out about any resident was to ask at the local pub or at the post office. In the case of Vic Greaves, it was Jean Murray, in the post office-cum-newsagent’s, who directed him toward the last cottage on the left on Darlington Road, telling him that “Mr. Jones” had been there for a few years now, was definitely a bit strange, not quite right in the head, but that he seemed harmless enough, and he always paid his newspaper bill on time. He was a bit of a recluse, she added, and he didn’t like visitors. She had no idea what he did with his time, but there had been no complaints about him. Her daughter, Susan, added that he had few visitors, but she had seen a couple of cars come and go. She couldn’t describe them.
Banks left his car parked on the cobbles by the village green. It was another miserable day, with wind and rain from the east, for a change, and the flagstone roofs of the houses looked as dark green as moss pools. Bare tree branches waved beyond the TV aerials, and beyond them lay the washed-out backdrop of a dishwater-gray sky.
At the top right of the village green, between the old Burgundy Hotel and the dark, squat Methodist chapel, a narrow lane led down toward a wooded beck. On each side was a terrace of small, one-up-one-down limestone cottages, once used to house farm laborers. Banks stood for a moment in front of the end one on the left and listened. He could hear no signs of life, see no lights. The downstairs curtains were closed, but the upstairs ones were open, as were the windows.
Finally, he knocked on the door.
Nothing happened, so he knocked again, harder this time.
When it seemed that no one was going to answer, the door opened and a figure stood there, looking anxious. It was hard to say whether it was Vic Greaves or not, as Banks only had the old group photographs to go by, when Greaves had been a promising twenty-something rock star. Now he must be in his late fifties, Banks thought, but he looked much older. Round-shouldered with a sagging stomach the size of a football, he wore a black T-shirt with a silver Harley Davidson on the front, baggy jeans and no shoes or socks. His eyes were bruised and hollow, his dry skin pale and lined. He was either bald or shaved his head regularly, and that accentuated the boniness of his cheeks and the hollowness of his eyes. He looked ill to Banks, and light-years from the pretty young boy all the girls adored, who had set the career of the Mad Hatters in motion.
“I’m looking for Vic Greaves,” Banks said.
“He’s not here today,” the man said, his expression unchanging.
“Are you sure?” Banks asked.
This seemed to puzzle the man and cause him some distress. “He might have been. He might have been, if he hadn’t been trying to go home. But his car’s broken down. The wheels won’t work.”
Suddenly, the man smiled, revealing a mouthful of stained and crooked teeth, with the odd gap here and there, and said, “He’s nothing to do with me.” Then he turned and walked back inside the house, leaving the door wide open. Puzzled, Banks followed him. The door led straight into the front room, the same as it did in Banks’s own cottage. Because the curtains were closed, the downstairs was in semidarkness, but even in the poor light Banks could see that the room was cluttered with piles of books, newspapers and magazines. There was a slight odor of sour milk about the place, and of cheese that had been left out of the fridge too long, but a better smell mingled with it: olive oil, garlic and herbs.
Banks followed the man through to the back, which was the kitchen, where a bit more light filtered in through the grimy windows and past half-open floral curtains. Inside, the place was spotlessly clean and neat, all the pots and pans gleaming on their wall hooks, dishes and cups sparkling in their glass-fronted cupboards. Whatever Greaves’s problem was – and Banks believed he was Greaves – it didn’t stop him from taking care of his home better than most bachelors Banks had known. The man stood with his back to Banks, stirring a pot on the gas range.
“Are you Vic Greaves?” Banks asked.
“Look,” said Banks, “I’m a police officer. DCI Banks. Alan, my name is Alan. I need to talk to you. Are you Vic Greaves?”
The man half turned. “Alan?” he said, peering curiously at Banks. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know any Alans. I don’t know you, do I?”
“I just told you. I’m a police officer. No, you don’t know me.”
“They weren’t really meant to grow so high, you know,” the man said, turning back to his pot. “Sometimes the rain does good things.”
“The hillsides drink it.”
Banks tried to position himself so that he could see the man’s face. When the man half turned again and saw him, he looked surprised. “What are you doing here?” he asked, as if he had genuinely forgotten Banks’s presence.
“I told you. I’m a policeman. I want to ask you some questions about Nick Barber. He did come and talk to you, didn’t he? Do you remember?”
The man shook his head, and his face turned sad for a moment. “Vic’s gone down to the woods today,” he said.
“Vic Greaves is in the woods?” Banks asked. “Who are you?”
“No,” he said. “He had to get some stuff, you know, he needed it for the stew.”
“You went to the woods earlier?”
“He sometimes walks there on nice days. It’s peaceful. He likes to listen to the birds and look at the leaves and the mushrooms.”
“Do you live here alone?”
He sighed. “I’m just passing through.”
“Tell me about Nick Barber.”
He stopped stirring and faced Banks, his expression still blank, unreadable. “Someone came here.”
“That’s right. His name was Nick Barber. When did he come? Do you remember?”
The man said nothing, just stared at Banks in a disturbing way. Banks was beginning to feel thoroughly unnerved by the entire experience. Was Greaves off his face on drugs or something? Was he likely to turn violent at any moment? If so, there was a handy rack of kitchen knives within his reach. “Look,” he said, “Nick Barber is dead. Somebody killed him. Can you remember anything about what he said?”
“Vic’s gone down to the woods today,” the man said again.
“Yes, but this man, Nick Barber. What did he ask you about? Was it about Robin Merchant’s death? Was it about Swainsview Lodge?”
The man put his hands over his ears and hung his head. “Vic can’t hear this,” he said. “Vic won’t hear this.”
“Think. Surely you can remember? Do you remember Swainsview Lodge?”
But Greaves was just counting now. “One, two, three, four, five…”
Banks tried to talk, but the counting got louder. In the end, he gave up, turned away and left. He would have to come back. There had to be a way of getting some answers from Vic Greaves.
On his way out of the village, Banks passed a sleek silver Merc, but thought nothing of it. All the way back to the station he thought about the strange experience he had just had, and even Pink Floyd’s “I Remember a Day” on the stereo could not dispel his gloom.
“Kev. What have you dug up?” Annie Cabbot asked, when a dusty and clearly disgruntled DS Templeton trudged over to her desk and flopped down on the visitor’s chair early that afternoon.
Templeton sighed. “We ought to do something about that basement,” he said. “It’s a bloody health hazard.” He brushed some dust off his sixty quid Topman distressed jeans and plonked a collection of files on the desk. “It’s all here, ma’am,” he said. “What there is of it, anyway.”
“Kev, I’ve told you before not to call me ma’am. I know that Detective Superintendent Gervaise insists on it, but that’s her prerogative. A simple ‘guv’ will suffice, if you must.”
“Give me a quick run-down.”
“Top and bottom of it is,” said Templeton, “that there was no full investigation, as such. The coroner returned a verdict of accidental death, and that was the end of it.”
“Not so far as I can tell, Guv.”
“Who was in the house at the time?”
“It’s all in that file, there.” Templeton tapped a thick buff folder. “For what it’s worth. Statements and everything. Basically, there were the band members, their manager, Lord Jessop, and various assorted girlfriends, groupies and hangers-on. They’re all named on the list, and they were all questioned.”
Annie scanned the list quickly and put it aside. Nothing, or no one, she hadn’t expected, though most of the names meant nothing to her.
“It happened after a private party to celebrate the success of their second album, which was called – get this – He Whose Face Gives No Light Shall Never Become a Star.”
“That’s Blake,” Annie said. “William Blake. My dad used to quote him all the time.”
“Sounds like a right load of bollocks to me,” Templeton said. “Anyway, the album was recorded at Swainsview Lodge over the winter of 1969-1970. Lord Jessop had let them convert an old banquet room he didn’t use first into a rehearsal space and then into a private recording studio. Quite a lot of bands used it over the next few years.”
“So what happened on the night of the party?”
“Everybody swore Merchant was fine when things wound up around two or three o’clock, but the next morning the gardener found him floating on his back, naked, in the pool. The postmortem found a drug called Mandrax in his system.”
“Search me. Some kind of tranquilizer?”
“Was there enough to kill him?”
“Not according to the pathologist. But he’d been drinking, too, and that enhances the effects, and the dangers. Probably been smoking dope and dropping acid, as well, but they didn’t have toxicology tests for them back then.”
“So what was the cause of death?”
“Officially, he slipped on the side of the swimming pool, fell in the shallow end, smashed his head on the bottom and drowned. The Mandrax might have slowed down his reactions. There was water in his lungs.”
“What about the blow to the head? Any way it could have been blunt-object trauma?”
“Showed impact with a large flat area rather than a blunt object.”
“Like the bottom of a swimming pool?”
“What did the party guests say?”
“What you’d expect. Everyone swore they were asleep at the time, and nobody heard anything. To be honest, they probably wouldn’t have even noticed if they were all full of drugs and he just fell in the pool. Not much to hear. He was already unconscious from hitting his head.”
“Any speculation as to why he was naked?”
“No,” said Templeton. “But it was par for the course back then, wasn’t it? Hippies and all that stuff. Free love. Orgies and whatnot. Any excuse to get their kit off.”
“Who carried out the investigation?”
“Detective Chief Inspector Cecil Grant was SIO – he’s dead now – but a DS Keith Enderby did most of the legwork and digging around.”
“Summer 1970,” said Annie. “He’ll be retired by now, most likely, but he might still be around somewhere.”
“I’ll check with Human Resources.”
“Kev, did you ever get the impression, reading through the stuff, that anyone put the kibosh on the investigation because a famous rock band and a peer of the realm were involved?”
Templeton scratched his brow. “Well, now you come to mention it, it did cross my mind. But if you look at the facts, there was no evidence to say that it happened any other way. DS Enderby seems to have done a decent enough job under the circumstances. On the other hand, they all closed ranks and presented a united front. I don’t believe for a minute that everyone went to sleep at two or three in the morning and heard nothing more. I’ll bet you there were people up and about, on the prowl, though perhaps they were in no state to distinguish reality from fantasy. Someone could easily have been lying to protect someone else. Or two or more of them could have been in it together. Conspiracy theory. The other thing, of course, is that there was no motive.”
“No strife within the band?”
“Not that anyone was able to put their finger on at the time. Again, though, they weren’t likely to tell the investigating officers about it if there was, were they?”
“No, but there might have been rumors in the music press. These people lived a great deal of their lives in the public eye.”
“Well, if there was anything, it was a well-kept secret,” said Templeton. “I’ve checked some of the stuff online and at that time they were a successful group, definitely going places. Maybe if someone dug around a bit now, asked the right questions… I don’t know… it might be different.”
“Why don’t you see if you can track down this Enderby, and I’ll have a chat with DCI Banks.”
“Yes, Guv,” said Templeton, standing up. “Want me to leave the files?”
“Might as well,” said Annie. “I’ll have a look at them.”
Thursday, 18th September, 1969
Rick Hayes’s Soho office was located above a trattoria in Frith Street, not too far from Ronnie Scott’s and any number of sleazy sex shops and strip clubs. Refreshed by an espresso from the Bar Italia across the street, Chadwick climbed the shabby staircase and knocked at the glass pane on the door labeled HAYES CONCERT PROMOTIONS. A voice called out for him to come in, and he entered to see Hayes sitting behind a littered desk, hand over the mouthpiece of his telephone.
“Inspector. What a surprise,” Hayes said. “Sit down. Can you just hang on a moment? I’ve been trying to get hold of this bloke forever.”
Chadwick waited, but instead of sitting, he wandered around the office, a practice that he found usually made people nervous. Framed signed photos of Hayes with various famous rock stars hung on the walls, unfamiliar names, for the most part: Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton. Filing cabinets stuffed with folders. He was opening drawers in a cabinet near the window when his snooping obviously made Hayes worried enough to end his phone call prematurely.
“What are you doing?” Hayes asked.
“Just having a look around.”
“Those are private files.”
“Yes?” Chadwick sat down. “Well, I’m a great believer in not wasting time sitting around doing nothing, so I thought I’d just use a bit of initiative.”
“Have you got a search warrant?”
“Not yet. Why? Do I need one?”
“To look at those files you do.”
“Oh, I shouldn’t think there’s anything there of interest to me. The reason I’m here is that you’ve been lying to me since the moment we met, and I want to know why. I also want to know what you have to do with the murder of Linda Lofthouse.”
“Don’t play games with me, laddie,” Chadwick snarled, his Glaswegian accent getting stronger the more angry he became. “You’ll only lose. That’s the victim’s name.”
“How was I to know?”
“It’s been in the papers.”
“Don’t read them.”
“I know, they’re all full of establishment lies. I don’t care whether you read the papers or not. You saw the body at Brimleigh. You were there at the scene even before I arrived.”
“You were in a perfect position to mislead us all, to tamper with evidence. She was right there, lying dead at your feet, and you told me you hadn’t seen her before.”
“I told you later that I might have seen her backstage. There were a lot of people around and I was very busy.”
“So you said. Later.”
“There were two important things I didn’t know then, things you could have told me but didn’t.”
“You’ve lost me. What are you talking about?”
Chadwick counted them off on his fingers. “First, that the victim’s name was Linda Lofthouse, and second, that you knew her a lot better than you let on.”
Hayes picked up a rubber band from his desk and started wrapping it around his nicotine-stained fingers. He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days, and his lank hair needed a wash. He was wearing jeans and a red collarless shirt made of some flimsy material. “I’ve told you everything I know,” he said.
“Bollocks. You’ve told me bugger all. I’ve had to piece it all together from conversations with other people. You could have saved me a lot of trouble.”
“It’s not my job to save the fuzz trouble.”
“Enough of that phony hippie nonsense. It doesn’t suit you. You’re a businessman, a filthy capitalist lackey, just like the rest, no matter how you dress and how infrequently you wash. You knew Linda Lofthouse through Dennis Nokes, the house on Bayswater Terrace, Leeds, and through her cousin Vic Greaves of the Mad Hatters. You also knew Linda’s friend Tania Hutchison, the girl she was with at Brimleigh, but you didn’t bother to tell us that, either, did you?”
Hayes’s jaw dropped. “Who told you all this?”
“That doesn’t matter. Is it true?”
“What if it is?”
“Then you’ve been withholding important information in a murder investigation, and that, laddie, is a crime.”
“I didn’t think we were living in a police state yet.”
“Believe me, if we were, you’d know the difference. When did you first meet Linda Lofthouse?”
Hayes glowered at Chadwick, still playing with the rubber band. “At Dennis’s place,” he said.
“I don’t know, man. A while back.”
“Weeks? Months? Years?”
“Look, Dennis is an old mate. Whenever I’m in the area I drop by and see him.”
“And one time you did this, you met Linda?”
“That’s right. She was staying at Dennis’s.”
“No way. Linda was untouchable.”
So it looked as if Nokes was telling the truth about that, at least. “This would have been the winter of 1967, early 1968, right?”
“If you say so.”
“How often have you seen her since?”
“Just a couple of times, you know.”
“No, I don’t. Enlighten me.”
“I’ve done some concerts with the Hatters, and she was at one of them. I met her up at Dennis’s again, too, but I didn’t, like, know her or anything. I mean, we weren’t close. We were just around the same scene sometimes, like lots of other people were.”
“So why did you lie about knowing her if it was all so innocent?”
“I don’t know, man. I didn’t want to get involved. You guys would probably take one look at me and think I did it. Besides, every minute I was standing around in that field I was losing money. You don’t know what this business is like, how hard it is just to break even sometimes.”
“So you lied because you thought that if you told the truth I’d keep you from your work and you’d lose money?”
“That’s right. Surely you can understand that?”
“Oh, I can understand it well enough,” said Chadwick. “You’re speaking my language now. Concern over money is a lot more common than you think.”
“What were you doing after you introduced Led Zeppelin on Sunday night?”
“Listening to their set whenever I had a moment. They were incredible. Blew me away.”
“Where were you listening?”
“Around. I still had things to do. We were looking to pack up and get out of there as soon as possible after the show, so I couldn’t waste time. As it turned out…”
“But where did you go to listen to them? The press enclosure was roped off in front of the stage. Apparently that was the best place to watch from. Did you go there?”
“No. Like I said, I didn’t have time to just stand there and watch. I had other things to do. It was pandemonium around there, man. We had people falling off the stage stoned and people trying to sneak in the front and back. Managers wanted paying, there were cars blocking other cars, limos turning up for people, pieces of equipment to be accounted for. I tell you, man, I didn’t have time to kill anyone, even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t. I mean, what possible motive could I have for killing Linda? She was a great bird. I liked her.” He lit a cigarette.
“I notice you’re left-handed,” Chadwick said.
“The killer was left-handed.”
“Lots of people are.”
“Do you own a flick-knife?”
“No way, man. They’re illegal.”
“Well, I’m glad to see you know the law.”
“Look, are we finished, because I’ve got a lot of phone calls to make?”
“We’re finished when I say we are.”
Hayes bristled but said nothing.
“I hope you realize the extent of the trouble you’re in,” Chadwick went on.
“Look, I did what anybody would do. You’ve got to be crazy these days to give the fuzz an inch, especially if you’re a bit different.”
“In your case, it didn’t work, did it? I’ve found out anyway. All we need now is one person – just one person – who saw you leaving the backstage area for the woods while Led Zeppelin were playing. Are you so sure that no one saw you? After all, we’ve discovered all your other little lies. Why not this one?”
“I did not leave the enclosure, and I didn’t see Linda leave, either.”
“We’re reinterviewing all the security personnel and everyone else we can think of who was there. Are you certain that’s the story you want to stick to?”
“I did not leave the enclosure. I did not go into those woods.”
“What did you do with the knife?”
“I can’t believe this! I never had a knife.”
Chadwick spread his hands on the table, the gesture of a reasonable man laying out his cards. “Look, Mr. Hayes, I’m not persecuting you because you’re different. In fact, I don’t believe you’re that much different from most of the petty villains I come into contact with. You just wear a different uniform, that’s all. Why don’t you make it easy on us all and tell me how it happened?”
“I want my solicitor.”
“What about Tania Hutchison? Did you try it on with her, too?”
“I’m not saying another word.”
“But it was Linda you really wanted, wasn’t it? Linda, who seemed so unattainable. ‘Untouchable.’ Isn’t that the word you used? She was so beautiful. Thought you weren’t good enough for her, did she? Even your money and your famous contacts didn’t impress her, did they? So how did it happen? She wandered off into the woods. You did your MC duties, and when everyone was enthralled and deafened by Led Zeppelin, you followed Linda into the woods. She rejected you again, and this time was once too many. She was having her period. Did she tell you that? Did you think it was just an excuse? Well, you were wrong. It was true. Maybe you were high? Maybe you’d been taking drugs? You could probably plead that you weren’t responsible for your actions. But she turned her back on you for the last time. You grabbed her from behind and stabbed her. Then, when you realized what you’d done, you knew you had to throw us off the scent. It was a clumsy attempt, but the best you could come up with under pressure. You walked to the edge of the field, were lucky enough to steal a sleeping bag without being seen, and the body was still undiscovered when you got back to it. You shoved her in the sleeping bag – very carelessly, I might add, and that was my first indication she hadn’t been killed in it – and you carried her to the field. While everyone’s attention was riveted on the stage, in the dark, you set the sleeping bag down at the very edge of the crowd so we wouldn’t link her with the backstage lot and hurried back to your duties. I don’t suppose it took long. Was there a lot of blood to wash off your hands? I don’t think so. You rubbed them on the leaves, then you rinsed them off in the beck. Did you get any on your clothes? Well, we can always check. Where did you hide the knife?”
As Chadwick talked, Hayes turned pale. “It’s one thing accusing me of all this,” he said finally, “but it will be quite another proving it.”
“All we need is one witness who saw you leave the enclosure at the relevant time.”
“And the nonexistent knife.”
That was clever of him, Chadwick thought. The knife would help a lot, especially if it had Hayes’s fingerprints and Linda Lofthouse’s blood on it. But cases had proceeded on less, and been won on less. Hayes might get a haircut and wear a suit for the jury, but people could still see through him.
Chadwick leaned forward and picked up Hayes’s telephone. “I’m going to call a contact at West End Central,” he said, “and in no time we’ll have search warrants for your office, your house and anywhere else you’ve spent more than ten minutes over the past two weeks. If there are any traces of Linda’s blood, believe me, we’ll find them.”
“Go ahead,” said Hayes, with less confidence than he was aiming for. “And as soon as you’ve done that, I’ll have my solicitor down here and sue you for wrongful arrest.”
“I haven’t arrested you,” said Chadwick, dialing. “Not yet.”
“Yes, I know what Mandrax is. Or was,” said Banks to Annie over an off-duty pint in the Queen’s Arms early that evening.
It was dark outside, and the pub was noisy with the after-work crowd, along with those who never worked and had been there all day, mostly loud kids with foul mouths telling fart jokes over the pool table in the back. A big mistake that table was, Banks had told Cyril, the landlord, but he had replied that he had to move with the times, or the younger crowd would all go to the Duck and Drake or the Red Lion. Good riddance, Banks thought. Still, it wasn’t his livelihood.
The mix of accents said a lot about the changing Dales; Banks could discern London, Newcastle and Belfast mixed in with the locals. The yob factor was getting stronger in Eastvale, too. Everyone had noticed, and it had become a matter of concern, written up in the newspaper, argued over by members of the council and local MPs. That was why Neighbourhood Policing had been set up and Gavin Rickerd transferred, to keep tabs on known troublemakers and share that intelligence with other communities.
Even the police station’s location right on the edge of the market square didn’t seem to make any difference to the drunken louts who ran wild after closing time every Saturday night, leaving a trail of detritus and destruction in their wake on the ancient cobbles, not to mention the occasional bleeding human being. Town-center shopkeepers and pub landlords scrubbing away the vomit and sweeping up broken glass on a Sunday morning was a common sight for the Eastvale churchgoers.
“Mandrax was a powerful sedative,” Banks said. “A sleeping tablet, known affectionately as ‘mandies.’ Been off the market since the seventies.”
“If they were sleeping pills,” Annie asked, “why didn’t they just put people to sleep?”
Banks took a swig of Black Sheep, the only pint he was allowing himself before the drive home to Gratly. “That’s what they were supposed to do. The thing was, if you mixed them with booze and rode out the first waves of tiredness, they gave you a nice, mellow buzz. They were also especially good for sex. I expect that was why Robin Merchant was naked.”
“Good for sex?”
“I don’t know. I only took two once and I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time. I fell asleep.”
Annie patted his arm. “Poor Alan. So, was Merchant on his way toward an assignation or was he just taking a post coital stroll?”
“What did the files say?” Banks asked.
“They were remarkably silent on the subject. No one admitted to sleeping with him. Of course, if he’d been in the water all night, it would have been difficult for the pathologist to tell whether he’d had sex or not.”
“Who was his girlfriend at the time?”
“No one in particular,” said Annie. “No information on Robin Merchant’s sexual habits or preferences made it to the official case notes.”
“This Enderby character might remember something, if and when Templeton tracks him down.”
“Maybe he was gay?” Annie suggested. “Him and Lord Jessop in the sack together? I could see why they might want to suppress that.”
“There’s no evidence to suggest that Lord Jessop was gay,” said Banks. “Apparently he liked the ladies. For a while, at any rate.”
“He became a heroin addict, though he functioned well enough for years. Many addicts do, if they can get a regular and reliable supply. But heroin doesn’t do a lot for your sex drive. In the end he got AIDS from an infected needle.”
“You’d think he could afford clean needles, wouldn’t you, him being a lord and all?”
“He was broke by then,” Banks said. “Apparently, he was rather a tragic figure toward the end. He died alone. All his friends had deserted him, including his rock-star pals. He’d spent his inheritance, sold off most of his land. Nobody wanted to buy Swainsview Lodge, and he had no heirs. He’d sold everything else he had.”
“Is that where he died, Swainsview?”
“Ironically enough, yes,” said Banks. “That place has a sad history.”
They both paused to take in the implications of that, then Annie said, “So they caused disorientation and tiredness, these mandies?”
“Yes. I mean, if Robin Merchant had been taking mandies and drinking, he could easily have lost his footing. I suppose when he hit his head on the bottom of the shallow end he’d already be feeling the effects of the drug and might have drowned. It’s like Jimi Hendrix, in a way, you know, choking on his own vomit because he had so much Vesperax in his system that he couldn’t wake up and stop it happening. Usually the body’s pretty good at self-preservation – gag reflexes and such – but certain drugs can inhibit or depress those functions.”
Across the room, a white ball cracked into a triangle of reds, breaking the frame and launching a new game. Someone started arguing loudly and drunkenly about the rules.
“So what happened to Mandrax?” Annie asked.
“I don’t know the exact details, but they took it off the market in the late seventies. People soon replaced it with Mogadon, which they called ‘moggies.’ Same sort of thing, but a tranquilizer, not a sedative, and probably not as harmful.”
Annie sipped some beer. “But someone could have pushed him, couldn’t they?”
“Of course they could. Even if we could find a motive, though, we might have a devil of a job proving it after all this time. And strictly speaking, it’s not our job.”
“It is if it’s linked to Nick Barber’s murder.”
“True enough. Anyway, I can’t see Vic Greaves being much help.”
“That really upset you, didn’t it, talking to him?”
“I suppose it did,” said Banks, toying with his beer mat. “I mean, it’s not as if he was one of my idols or anything, but just to see him in that state, to see that emptiness in his eyes up close.” Banks gave an involuntary shudder.
“Was it drugs? Was he really an acid casualty?”
“That’s what everyone said at the time. You know, there was even a kind of heroic stature about it. He was put on a pedestal for being mad. People thought there was something cool about it. He attracted a cult following, a lot of weirdos. They still hound him.” Banks shook his head. “What a time. The way they used to glorify tramps and call madmen visionaries.”
“You think there was something else to it?”
“I don’t know how much LSD he took. Probably bucketfuls of the stuff. I’ve heard he’s done a few stints in various psychiatric establishments over the years, along with group therapy and any other kinds of therapy that happened to be fashionable at the time, but as far as I know there’s still no official diagnosis. None of them seemed to know exactly what his problem was, let alone cure him. Acid casualty, psychotic, schizophrenic, paranoid schizophrenic. Take your pick. None of it really matters in the long run. He’s Vic Greaves and his head’s fucked. It must be hell inside there.”
Brian and Emilia were in the entertainment room watching La Dolce Vita on the plasma screen when Banks got home. They were on the sofa, Brian sitting up with his feet on the pouf, his arm around Emilia, who leaned against him, head on his chest, face hidden by a cascade of hair. She was wearing what looked like one of Brian’s shirts. It wasn’t tucked in at the waist because she wasn’t wearing anything to tuck it into. They certainly looked as if they had made themselves at home during the couple of days they’d been around, and Banks realized sadly that he had been so busy he had hardly seen them. A tantalizing smell drifted from the kitchen.
“Oh, hi, Dad,” said Brian, putting the DVD on pause. “Got your note. We were out walking around Relton way.”
“Not a very nice day for it, I’m afraid,” said Banks, flopping onto one of the armchairs.
“We got soaked,” said Emilia.
“It happens,” said Banks. “Hope it didn’t put you off?”
“Oh, no, Mr. Banks. It’s beautiful up here. I mean, even when it’s gray and rainy it’s got a sort of romantic, primitive beauty, hasn’t it? Like Wuthering Heights.”
“I suppose it has,” said Banks. He gestured toward the screen. “And call me Alan, please. Didn’t know you were Fellini fans. It’s one of your Uncle Roy’s. I’ve been trying to watch them all. Bergman. Truffaut. Chabrol. Kurasawa. I’m getting quite used to the subtitles now, but I still have a bit of trouble following what’s going on half the time.”
Brian laughed. “I heard someone talking about La Dolce Vita a while ago, how great it was, and there it was, right in front of me. Emmy here’s an actress.”
“I thought I’d seen you somewhere before,” Banks said. “You’ve done TV, right?”
Emilia blushed. “A little. I’ve had small parts in Spooks, Hustle and Bad Girls, and I’ve done quite a bit of theater, too. No movies yet.” She stood up. “Please excuse me a moment.”
“What’s that smell?” Banks asked Brian when she had left the room.
“Emilia’s making us dinner.”
“I thought we’d get a take-away tonight.”
“This’ll be better, Dad, believe me. You took us out on Sunday. Emilia wants to repay you. She’s a gourmet cook. Leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary. Potatoes dauphinois.” He put his fingers to his lips and made a kissing sound. “Fantastic.”
“Well,” said Banks, “I’ve never been one to turn down a gourmet meal, but she doesn’t have to feel obliged.”
“She likes doing it.”
“Then I’d better open a nice bottle of wine.”
Banks walked to the kitchen and opened a bottle of Peter Lehmann Australian Shiraz, which he thought would go well with the lamb. When Emilia came in, she was wearing jeans, with the shirt tucked in at the waist and her long hair tied back in a simple ponytail. She smiled at him, cheeks glowing, and bent to open the oven. The smell was even stronger.
“Wonderful,” said Banks.
“It won’t be long now,” said Emilia. “The lamb and potatoes are almost done. I’m just going to make a salad. Pear and blue cheese. That’s okay, isn’t it? Brian said you like blue cheese.”
“It’s fine,” said Banks. “Sounds delicious, in fact. Thank you.”
Emilia flashed him a shy smile, and he guessed she was a little embarrassed because he’d caught her with her trousers down, so to speak.
Banks poured a glass of Shiraz, offered one to Emilia, who said she’d wait until later, then went back to sit with Brian, who had now turned off the DVD and was playing the first Mad Hatters CD, which Banks had bought at the HMV on Oxford Street, along with their second and third albums.
“What do you think of it?” he asked Brian.
“It must have been quite something in its time,” Brian said. “I like the guitar and keyboards mix they’ve got. That sounds quite original. Really spacey. It’s good. Especially for a debut. Better than I remember. I mean, I haven’t listened to them in years.”
“Me, neither,” said Banks. “I met Vic Greaves today. At least, I think I did.”
“Vic Greaves? Jesus, Dad. He’s a legend. What was he like?”
“Strange. He spoke in non sequiturs. Referred to himself in the third person a lot.” Banks shrugged. “I don’t know. Everyone says he took too much LSD.”
Brian seemed deep in thought for a few moments, then he said, “Acid casualties. Makes it sound like war, doesn’t it? But things like that happened. It’s not as if he was the only one.”
“I know that,” said Banks, finding himself starting to wonder about Brian. He was living the rock-star life, too, as Vic Greaves had. What did he get up to? How much did he know about drugs?
“Dinner’s ready!” Emilia called out.
Banks and Brian got up and went into the kitchen, where Emilia had lit candles and presented the salad beautifully. They talked about Brian’s music and Emilia’s acting ambitions as they ate, a pleasant relief for Banks after his distressing encounter with Vic Greaves. This time, Banks actually got as far as dessert – raspberry brûlée – before the phone rang. Cursing, he excused himself.
“Winsome here. Sorry to bother you, Guv, but it’s Jean Murray. You know, from the post office in Lyndgarth. She rang about five minutes ago about Vic Greaves. Said she was out walking her dog and heard all sorts of shenanigans up at the house. Lights going on and off, people shouting and running around and breaking things. I thought I should tell you.”
“You did right,” said Banks. “Did you send a car?”
“Good. Don’t. Is there more than one person involved?”
“Sounds like it to me.”
“Thanks, Winsome,” said Banks. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He thanked Emilia for a wonderful dinner, made his apologies and left, saying he wasn’t sure how late he would be back. He didn’t think Brian minded too much, the way he was looking at Emilia and holding her hand in the candlelight.
Friday, 19th September, 1969
Detective Chief Superintendent McCullen called a meeting for Friday afternoon in the incident room at Brotherton House. The town hall dome looked dark and forbidding against the iron-gray sky, and only a few shoppers were walking up the Headrow toward Lewis’s and Schofield’s, struggling with their umbrellas. Chadwick was feeling a little better after a decent and nightmare-free sleep in his own bed, helped along considerably by the news that Leeds United beat SK Lyn Oslo 10-0 in the first round of the European Cup.
Photos were pinned to the boards at the front of the room – the victim, the scene – and those present sat in chairs at the various scattered desks. Occasionally a telephone rang and a telex machine clattered in the distance. Present were McCullen, Chadwick, Enderby, Bradley, Dr. O’Neill and Charlie Green, a civilian liaison from the forensic laboratory in Wetherby, along with a number of uniformed and plainclothes constables who had been involved in the Lofthouse case. McCullen hosted the proceedings, calling first on Dr. O’Neill to summarize the pathology findings, which he did most succinctly. Next came the lab liaison man, Charlie Green.
“I’ve been in meetings with our various departments this morning,” he said, “so I think I can give you a reasonable précis of what we’ve discovered so far. Which isn’t very much. Blood analysis determines that the victim’s blood is group A, a characteristic she shares with about forty-three percent of the population. As far as toxicology has been able to gather so far, there is no evidence to suggest the presence of illegal substances. I must inform you at this point, though, that we have no test for LSD, a fairly common drug among… well, the type of people we’re dealing with. It disappears from the system very quickly.
“As you all know, the areas around where the body was found, and where the victim was stabbed, have both been searched exhaustively by our search teams and by specially trained police dogs. They turned up a small amount of blood at the scene, some on the ground and more on some nearby leaves. The blood matches the victim’s group and we submit that the killer used the leaves to wipe her blood from his hands and perhaps from the murder weapon, a narrow, single-edged blade, the kind you often find on a flick-knife. There are no footprints in the woods, and the footprints found near the sleeping bag were so muddled as to be useless.
“Upon examination, the sleeping bag yielded traces of the victim’s blood, along with hair and… er… bodily fluids that contain the respective blood types of Ian Tilbrook and June Betts, neither group A, by the way, who claimed the sleeping bag was stolen from them while they sought out a better viewing position on the field.”
“In all this, then,” said McCullen, “there are no traces of the killer? No blood? No hair?”
“We still have unidentified hairs, some taken from the tree trunk near which the girl was killed,” said Green. “As you know, hair comparison is weak, to say the least, and it often doesn’t stand up in court.”
“But you do have hairs, and they might belong to the killer?”
“Yes. We also have some fibers, again some from the tree and some from the victim’s dress, but they’re common blue denim, which I’m sure just about everyone was wearing, and black cotton, which is also common. There’s a chance we might be able to make a match if we had the clothes, but I’m afraid these fibers aren’t going to lead us to anything you can’t get at Lewis’s or Marks amp; Spencer’s.”
“Is there anything else?”
“Just one more thing, really.”
McCullen raised his eyebrows. “Do tell.”
“We found stains on the back of the girl’s dress,” Green said, hardly able to stop the smile spreading across his large mouth. “They turned out to be semen, a secretor, type A blood, same as the victim. Hardly conclusive, of course, but certainly interesting.”
McCullen turned back to Dr. O’Neill. “Doctor,” he said, “do we have any evidence of recent sexual activity on the part of the girl?”
“As I said to DI Chadwick at the postmortem, the victim was menstruating at the time she was killed. Now, that doesn’t rule out sexual activity, of course, but vaginal and anal swabs reveal absolutely no signs of it, and the tissue shows no signs of tearing or bruising.”
“Was she on the pill?” McCullen asked.
“We did find evidence of oral contraception, yes.”
“So perhaps,” Chadwick said, “our killer got his pleasure by ejaculating on the victim, not in her.”
“Or perhaps he couldn’t help himself, and it happened as he was stabbing her. Was there a great deal of semen, Mr. Green?”
“No,” said Green. “Minute traces. As much as might have seeped through a person’s underpants and jeans, say.”
“So what do we know about our killer in total, Mr. Green?” he asked.
“That he’s between five foot ten and six feet tall, left handed, wore blue denim jeans and a black cotton shirt or T-shirt, he’s a secretor, and his blood type is A.”
“Thank you.” McCullen turned to Enderby. “I understand you’ve got something for us, Sergeant?”
“It’s not much, sir,” said Enderby, “but DI Chadwick asked me to track down the girl who was doing the body painting backstage at Brimleigh. It seems there’s some question about the flower painted on the victim’s face, whether it was pre-or postmortem.”
“Robin Merchant, one of the members of the Mad Hatters, told DI Chadwick that he saw her with a painted flower on her face late that evening. Her friend Tania Hutchison can’t remember. Hayes was also uncertain. If she did have one, we were wondering if the killer did it for some reason, sir.”
“I’m afraid we still don’t know for certain. The body painter was a bit… well, not so much stupid as sort of lost in her own world. She couldn’t remember who she painted and who she didn’t. I showed her the victim’s photograph, and she thought she recognized her. Then I showed her the design, and she said it could have been one of hers, but she didn’t usually paint cornflowers.”
“Wonderful,” said McCullen. “Do any of these people have the brains they were born with, I wonder?”
“I know, sir,” said Enderby, with a grin. “It’s very frustrating. Should I continue my inquiries?”
McCullen looked at Chadwick. “Stan? You’re in charge.”
“I’m not sure if it’s relevant at all,” Chadwick said. “I simply thought that the drawing of such a flower by the killer indicated a certain type of mentality.”
“A nutcase, you mean?” said McCullen.
“To put it bluntly, yes,” said Chadwick. “And while I’m not saying our killer didn’t do it, I’m beginning to think that if he did, it’s simply another clumsy attempt at sleight of hand, like moving the body.”
Chadwick took Green’s place at the front by the boards. “Yesterday in London, with the permission of the local police at West End Central, I questioned Rick Hayes, the festival promoter. He’s lied to me on a couple of occasions, and when I confronted him with this, he admitted to knowing the victim previous to the festival. He denies any sexual involvement – and I must add that a couple of other people I have spoken with regard this as highly unlikely, too – but he did know her. He’s also the kind of man who asks just about every girl he meets to hop into bed with him, so I’m thinking there’s a chance that if he was attracted to Linda and she rejected him… well, I think you can see where I’m going.”
“What about his alibi?” McCullen asked.
“Shaky, to say the least. He was definitely onstage at one o’clock to introduce the last group. After that, who knows? He claims he was in the backstage enclosure paying people – I gather a lot of this sort of thing operates on a cash-in-hand basis, probably to avoid income tax – and seeing to various problems that came up. We can reinterview everyone who was there, but I don’t think that’ll get us anywhere. The point is that things were so chaotic back there when Led Zeppelin were playing that Hayes could easily have followed Linda out of the compound, stayed away for long enough to kill her and get back without really being missed. Don’t forget, it was dark as well as noisy, and most people were at the front of the stage watching the band. The drugs they take also make them rather narcissistic and inward-looking. Not a very observant lot, by and large.”
“Have we enough to hold him?”
“I’m not sure,” said Chadwick. “With West End Central’s help we searched his Soho office and his flat in Kensington and turned up nothing.”
“Is he left-handed?”
“The right height?”
“Five foot eleven.”
“So it’s all circumstantial?”
“We’ve had worse cases, but there’s nothing to directly link him to the murder, without the weapon, except that he knew the victim, he fancied her, he had a bit of a temper, he’s left-handed and his alibi’s weak. He’s not a nutcase, so if he did paint the flower on her cheek, he did so to make us think it was the work of a nutcase.”
“I see your point,” said McCullen. “He still sounds like the best bet we’ve got so far. He could have ditched the knife anywhere. Talk to the kid who found the body again, ask him at what point Hayes turned up and what sort of state he was in. And organize another search of the woods.”
“Yes, sir,” said Chadwick. “What do we do about him in the meantime?”
“We’ve got enough to hold him, haven’t we? Let’s bring him back up here and treat him to a bit of Yorkshire hospitality. Arrange it with West End Central. I’m sure there must be someone down there looking for a chance to come up and watch tomorrow’s game.”
“Which game would that be, sir?”
McCullen looked at him as if were mad and said, “Which game? There is only one game, as far as I know.”
Chadwick knew he meant the Yorkshire Challenge Cup at Headingley, knew McCullen was a rugby man, so he was teasing. The others knew it, too, and they were grinning behind cupped hands.
“Sorry, sir,” said Chadwick. “I thought you meant Leeds and Chelsea.”
McCullen grunted. “Football?” he said with scorn. “Nothing but a bunch of sissies. Now enough of your cheek and get on with it.”
“Yes, sir,” said Chadwick.
The end cottage was quiet when Banks walked up to the door at around nine o’clock. He had called on Jean and Susan Murray, who shared the flat above the post office, just to let them know that he was there and they weren’t to worry. Jean Murray’s account of events in person was no more coherent than what Winsome had repeated on the phone. Noise. Lights. Things breaking. A domestic tiff, Banks would have guessed, except that he was certain Vic Greaves had been alone when he left, and he wasn’t in any kind of shape to argue coherently with anyone. Banks had also considered calling in Annie, but there was no point in dragging her in all the way from Harkside for what might turn out to be nothing.
He had parked his car by the green again, next to a silver Merc, because it wouldn’t fit up the lane. He looked at the Merc again and remembered it was the same one he had seen when he left Lyndgarth in the late afternoon. Wind thrashed the bare branches in the streetlights, casting eerie shadows over the cottage and the road. The air smelled of rain that hadn’t started falling yet.
The front curtains were closed, but Banks could see a faint light shining inside. He walked down the path and knocked on the door. This time, it was answered quickly. The man who stood there, framed by the light, had a red complexion, and his thinning gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail, which gave the effect of his having a bulbous, belligerent face, as if Banks were seeing it through a fish-eye lens. He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans.
“What the fuck do you want?” he said. “Are you the bastard who came round earlier upsetting Vic? Can’t you sick bastards just leave him alone? Can’t you see he’s ill?”
“He did look rather ill to me,” said Banks, reaching inside his pocket for his warrant card. He handed it over, and the man examined it before passing it back.
“I’m sorry,” he said, running his hand over the top of his head. “Excuse me. Come in. I’m just used to being so protective. Vic’s in a hell of a state.”
Banks followed him in. “You’re right, though,” he said. “It was me who was here earlier, and he did get upset. I’m sorry if I’m to blame.”
“You weren’t to know.”
“Who are you, by the way?”
The man stuck out his hand. “Name’s Chris. Chris Adams.”
Banks shook. Adams had a firm grasp, although his palm was slightly sweaty.
“The Mad Hatters’ manager?”
“For my sins. You understand the situation, then? Sit down, sit down.”
Banks sat on a cracked vinyl armchair of some indeterminate yellow-brown color. Adams sat at an angle to him. All around them were stacks of papers and magazines. The room was dimly lit by two table lamps with pink-and-green shades. There didn’t seem to be any heat, and it was chilly in the cottage. Banks kept his coat on. “I wouldn’t say I understand the situation,” he said. “I know Vic Greaves is living here, and that’s just about all I know.”
“He’s resting at the moment. Don’t worry, he’ll be okay,” said Adams.
“You take care of him?”
“I try to drop by as often as I can when I’m not away in London or L.A. I live just outside Newcastle, near Alnwick, so it’s not too long a journey.”
“I thought you were all living in America?”
“That’s just the band – most of them, anyway. I wouldn’t live there if you paid me a fortune in gold bullion. Right now, there’s plenty to do at this end, organizing the forthcoming tour. But you don’t want to know about my problems. What exactly can Vic do for you?”
Now that he was here, Banks wasn’t entirely sure. He hadn’t had time to plan an interview, hadn’t even expected to see Chris Adams this evening; he had come in response to Jean Murray’s call. Perhaps that was the best place to start.
“I’m sorry I upset Mr. Greaves earlier,” he began, “but I had a phone call a short while ago from someone in the village complaining about shouting and things breaking.”
Adams nodded. “That would have been Vic. When I got here it must have been shortly after you left. I found him rolled up in a ball on the floor counting. He does that when he feels threatened. I suppose it’s sort of like sheep turning their backs on danger and hoping it will go away.”
“I thought maybe he was on drugs or something.”
Adams shook his head. “Vic hasn’t touched drugs – at least nonprescription drugs – in over thirty years or more.”
“And the noise, the breakages?”
“I got him to sleep for a while, then, when he woke after dark, he got disoriented and frightened. He remembered your visit, and he got hysterical, had one of his tantrums and smashed a couple of plates. It happens from time to time. Nothing serious. I managed to calm him down eventually, and he’s sleeping again now. Small village. Word gets around.”
“Indeed,” said Banks. “I’ve heard stories, of course, but I had no idea he was so fragile.”
Adams rubbed at his lined forehead, as if scratching an itch. “He can function well enough on his own,” he said, “as you’ve no doubt seen. But he finds interaction difficult, especially with strangers and people he doesn’t trust. He tends to get angry, or to just shut down. It can be very distressing, not just for him, but for whoever is trying to talk to him, as you no doubt found out, too.”
“Has he been getting any professional help?”
“Doctors? Oh, yes, he’s seen many doctors over the years. None of them have been able to do much except prescribe more and more drugs, and Vic doesn’t like to take them. He says they make him feel dead inside.”
“How does he get in touch with you?”
“If he needs you or wants to see you. Has he got a phone?”
“No. Having a telephone would only upset him.” Adams shrugged. “People would find out his number. Crazy fans. That’s what I thought you were, at first. He gets enough letters as it is. Like I said, I just drop by whenever I can. And he knows he can always get in touch with me. I mean, he knows how to use a phone, he’s not an idiot, and sometimes he’ll phone from the box by the green.”
“Can he get around?”
“He doesn’t drive, if that’s what you mean. He does have a bicycle.”
A bicycle wasn’t much good for many of these steep country roads, Banks thought, unless you were especially fit, and Greaves didn’t look that healthy. But Fordham, he reminded himself, was only about a mile away, and you didn’t need a car, or even a bicycle, to cover that sort of distance.
“Look, what’s going on?” Adams asked. “I don’t even know what you’re doing here. Why do you want to know about Vic?”
“I’m investigating a murder,” said Banks, eyes on Adams to judge his reaction. There wasn’t one, which was odd in itself. “Ever heard of a man called Nicholas Barber?”
“Nick Barber? Sure. If it’s the same man, he’s a freelance music journalist. Been writing about the Hatters on and off for the past five years or so. Nice bloke.”
“That’s the one.”
“Is he dead, then?”
“He was murdered in a cottage a little over a mile from here.”
“When was this?”
“Just last week.”
“And you think…?”
“I happen to know that Barber was working on a feature about the Mad Hatters for MOJO magazine. He found Greaves up here and came to talk to him, but Greaves freaked out and sent him packing. He was planning on coming back, but before he could, he was killed and all his work notes were stolen.”
“Of course he’d get nothing out of Vic. He doesn’t like talking about the old days. They’re painful for him to remember, if indeed he can remember much about them.”
“Makes him angry, does it? Gives him a tantrum?”
Adams leaned forward, face thrust out aggressively. “Now, wait a minute. You surely can’t be thinking…” Then he leaned back. “You’ve got it all wrong. Vic’s a gentle soul. He’s got his problems, sure, but he wouldn’t harm a fly. He’s no more capable of-”
“Your confidence in him is admirable, but he certainly strikes me as being capable of irrational or violent behavior.”
“But why would he hurt Nick Barber?”
“You’ve just said it yourself. He’s not good at interaction, especially with strangers or people he doesn’t trust, people he perceives as a threat. Maybe Barber was after information that was painful for Vic to remember, something he’d buried long ago.”
Adams relaxed and sat back in his chair. The vinyl squeaked. “That’s a bit fanciful, if you don’t mind my saying so. Why would Vic perceive Nick Barber as a threat? He was just another fucking music journalist, for crying out loud.”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” said Banks.
“Well, good luck to you, but I honestly can’t see you getting anywhere. I think you’re barking up the wrong tree on this one. And besides, I’d guess there were plenty of heavy people more interested in Nick Barber than Vic.”
“What do you mean?”
Adams gave a twisted smile, put his finger to one nostril and sniffed through the other one. “Had quite a habit, so I heard. They can be very unforgiving, some of those coke dealers.”
Banks made a note to check into that area of Barber’s life, but he wasn’t going to be deflected so easily. “Did he talk to you?”
“Nick Barber. He was doing a feature on the Hatters reunion, after all. It would only have been natural.”
“No, he didn’t.”
“I suppose he just hadn’t got round to it,” Banks said. “Early days. Were you present when Robin Merchant drowned in the swimming pool at Swainsview Lodge?”
Adams looked surprised at the change of direction. He took a packet of Benson amp; Hedges from his jacket pocket and lit one, not offering the packet to Banks. Banks was grateful; he might have accepted one. Adams inhaled noisily, and the smoke curled in the dim, chilly light of the pink-and-green-shaded table lamps. “I wasn’t present at the drowning, but I was in the lodge, yeah, asleep, like everybody else.”
“Like everybody else said they were.”
“And like the police and the coroner believed.”
“We’ve had a lot of success lately with cold cases.”
“It’s not a cold case. It’s an over and done with case, dead and buried. History.”
“I’m not too sure about that,” said Banks. “Did you drop by to see Vic last week at all?”
“I was in London most of last week for meetings with promoters. I called in to see him on my way back up north.”
“What day would that be?”
“I’d have to check my calendar. Why is it important?”
“Would you check, please?”
Adams paused a moment, obviously not used to being given orders, then pulled a PDA from his inside pocket. “Isn’t it wonderful, modern technology?” he said, tapping it with the stylus.
“Indeed,” said Banks. “It’s one of the reasons we’ve had such a high success rate with cold cases. New technology. Computers. DNA. Magic.” Banks wasn’t too sure about it himself, though. He was still trying to master a laptop computer and an iPod; he hadn’t got around to PDAs yet.
Adams shot him an angry glance. “Are we talking about last week?” he asked.
“Then I would have seen him on Wednesday, on my way back from London. I’d been down there since the previous weekend.”
“Wednesday. Was there anything odd or different about his behavior, anything he said?”
“No, not that I noticed. He was quite docile. He was reading a book when I arrived. He reads a lot, mostly nonfiction.” Adams gestured to the magazines, books and papers. “As you can see, he doesn’t like to throw anything away.”
“He didn’t tell about anything unusual or frightening happening, about Nick Barber or anyone else coming to see him?”
According to John Butler at MOJO, Nick Barber had tracked down Vic Greaves to this cottage and paid him a visit, but Butler hadn’t known the actual day this had happened. Vic had freaked out, refused to talk, become angry and upset, and Barber had said he was going to try again. The phone call to Butler had been made on Friday morning, probably from the telephone box by the church.
If Vic Greaves hadn’t told Adams about his meeting with Barber, then it must have happened as late in the week as Thursday, perhaps, and Barber might have tried again on Friday, the day of his murder. Kelly Soames said he had been in bed with her between two and four, but that still left him virtually all day. Unless, of course, either Kelly Soames or Chris Adams was lying, in which case all bets were off. And of the two, Banks felt that while Kelly Soames would lie to protect herself from her father, Adams might have any number of less forgivable reasons for doing it.
“Where were you on Friday?” Banks asked.
“Home. All weekend.”
“Sorry. I’m afraid my wife was away, visiting her mother.”
“Can you give me the names and addresses of some of the people you met with in London, and the hotel you were staying at?” Banks asked.
“Am I hearing you right? Are you asking me for an alibi now?”
“Process of elimination,” said Banks. “The more people we can rule out straightaway, the easier our job is.”
“Bollocks,” said Adams. “You don’t believe me. Why don’t you just come right out and admit it?”
“Look,” said Banks, “I’m not in the business of believing the first thing I’m told. Not by anybody. I’d be a bloody useless detective if I were. It’s a job, nothing personal. I want to get the facts straight before I come to any conclusions.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Adams, tapping his way through the PalmPilot and giving Banks some names and numbers. “And I was staying at the Mont-calm. They’ll remember me. I always stay there when I’m in town. I’ve got a suite. Okay?”
“Appreciate it,” said Banks.
They heard a bang from upstairs. Adams cursed and headed out. While he was gone, Banks took as good a look as he could around the room. Some of the newspapers were ten years old or more, the same with the magazines, which meant Greaves must have brought them with him when he moved in. The books were mostly biography or history. One thing he did find of interest, on the table half hidden under the lamp, was a business card that had Nick Barber’s Chiswick address printed on it and his Fordham address scribbled on the other side. Had Barber left this for Vic Greaves when he paid his visit? It should be possible to check it against a sample of his handwriting.
Adams came back. “Nothing,” he said. “His book slipped off the bed to the floor. He’s still out.”
“Are you staying here overnight?” Banks asked.
“No. Vic’ll sleep right through till morning now, and by then he’ll have forgotten whatever upset him today. One of the marvels of his condition. Every day is a new adventure. Besides, it won’t take me too long to drive home, and I have a lovely young wife waiting for me there.”
Banks wished he had someone living with him, but even if he had, he realized, it wouldn’t be possible with Brian and Emilia around. How ironic, he thought. They could do whatever they wanted, but he didn’t feel he could spend the night with a woman in his own house while they were there. Chance would be a fine thing. Banks felt nervous about going home, fearing what he might disturb. He’d phone them on his way, when he got within mobile range, just to warn them, give them time to get dressed, or whatever.
He showed Adams the card. “I found this pushed under the lamp over there,” he said, “only the edge was showing. Did you put it there?”
“Never seen it before,” said Adams.
“It’s Nick Barber’s card.”
“So what? That doesn’t prove anything.”
“It proves he was here at least once.”
“But you already know that.”
“It also has his Fordham address written on it, so anyone who saw it here would know where he was staying when he was killed. Nice meeting you, Mr. Adams. Have a safe drive home. I’m sure we’ll be talking again soon.”
Saturday, 20th September, 1969
While Chadwick was cheering on Leeds United to a 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Elland Road that Saturday afternoon, Yvonne walked over to Springfield Mount to meet Steve and the others. Judy was going to make a macrobiotic meal, then they’d smoke a joint or two and take the bus into town. There was a bunch of stuff happening at the Adelphi that night: poets, a blues band, a jazz trio.
She was surprised, and more than a little put out, when McGarrity opened the door, but she asked for Steve, and he stood aside to let her in. The place was unusually quiet. No music or conversation. Yvonne went into the front room, sat on the sofa and lit a cigarette, glancing at the Goya print, which always seemed to mesmerize her. A moment later McGarrity strolled through the door with a joint in his hand and said, “He’s not here. Will I do?”
McGarrity put a record on and sat in the armchair opposite her. He had that sort of fixed, crooked smile on his face, cynical and mocking, that always made her feel nervous and ill at ease in his presence. His pale skin was pockmarked, as if he’d scratched it when he had chicken pox as a child, the way her mother said would happen to her, and his dark hair was greasy and matted, flopping over his forehead and almost covering one dark brown eye. “Steve. He’s out. They’re all out.”
“Where are they?”
“Town Street, shopping.”
“When will they be back?”
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe I should come back later.”
“No. Don’t go so soon. Here.” He handed her the joint.
Yvonne hesitated, then put her cigarette in the ashtray, accepted it and took a couple of drags. A joint was a joint, after all. It tasted good. Quality stuff. She recognized the music now: the Grateful Dead, “China Cat Sunflower.” Nice. She still felt uncomfortable with the way he was looking at her, though, and she remembered the other night at the Grove, when he’d touched her and whispered her name. At least he didn’t have his knife in his hand today. He seemed normal enough. Still, she felt edgy. She shifted on the sofa and said, “Thank you. I should go now.”
“Why are you being so rude? You’ll share a joint with me, but why don’t you want to stay and talk to me?” He handed her the joint again and she took another couple of drags, hoping it would set her at ease, calm her down. What was it about him that disturbed her so? The smile? The sense that behind it lay only darkness?
“What do you want to talk about?” she said, handing the joint back to him and picking up her cigarette again.
“That’s better. I don’t know. Let’s talk about that girl who got killed last week.”
Yvonne remembered McGarrity’s knife, and that he had been wandering the crowds at Brimleigh during the festival. A terrible thought leaped into her mind. Surely he couldn’t have…? She began to feel real fear now, a physical sensation like insects crawling all over her skin. She looked at the Sleep of Reason and thought she could see the bats flying around the sleeping man’s head, biting at his neck with vampire teeth. The cat at his feet licked its lips. Yvonne felt an electric tingling in her arms and in the backs of her legs. ee-lek-triss-attee. God, that hash was strong. And the song had changed. It wasn’t “China Cat Sunflower” anymore, but “What’s Become of the Baby?” a creepy sound montage of disembodied voices and electronic effects. “Linda?” she heard herself saying in a strange, distant voice that could have been someone else’s. “What about her?”
“You met her. I know you did. Wasn’t she pretty? Sad, isn’t it? But it’s an absurd and arbitrary world,” he said. “That sort of thing could happen to anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. The pretty and the plain alike. As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport. Not with a bang but a whimper. One day you’ll understand. Have you read about those people in Los Angeles? The rich people who got butchered? One of them was pregnant, you know. They cut her baby out of her womb. The newspapers are saying they were killed by people like us because they were rich piggies. Wouldn’t you like to do something like that, little Von? Kill the piggies?”
“No. I don’t want to hurt anyone,” Yvonne blurted out. “I believe in love.”
“His scythe cuts down the innocent and the guilty alike. And the dead shall rise incorruptible.”
Yvonne put her hands over her ears. Her head was spinning. “Stop it!”
“Because you’re making me nervous.”
“Why do I make you nervous?”
“I don’t know, but you do.”
“Is it exciting?”
He leaned forward. She could see the decay on his front teeth, bared in that arrogant, superior smile. “Being nervous. Does it make you excited?”
“No, it makes me nervous and you excited.”
McGarrity laughed. “You’re not as stupid as you look, are you, little Von? Even when you’re stoned. And here was me thinking the only reason Steve wanted you was for your cunt. But it is a pretty little cunt, isn’t it?”
Yvonne felt herself flushing to the roots of her being with anger and embarrassment. McGarrity was looking at her curiously, as if she were some unusual specimen of plant life. The owls in the Goya print seemed to be whispering in the sleeper’s ear just as the song’s eerie voices were whispering in her head.
“You don’t need to show me it,” he said. “I’ve already seen it.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve watched you. With Steve.”
Yvonne’s jaw dropped. She stubbed out her cigarette so hard the sparks burned her fingers, and tried to stand up. It wasn’t easy. Somehow or other, she couldn’t believe how, she found herself sitting down again, and McGarrity was beside her, grasping her arm. Hard. His face was so close to hers she could smell smoke and stale cheese on his breath. He let go of her arm and started rolling a cigarette. She thought she should make a run for it, but she felt too heavy to move. The joint, she thought. Opiated hash. It always did that to her, gave her a heavy, drifting, dreamy feeling. But this time the dream was turning into a nightmare.
He reached forward and touched her cheek with his finger just as he had done at the Grove. It felt like a slug. “Yvonne,” he whispered. “What harm can it do? We believe in free love, don’t we? After all, it’s not as if you’re the only one, you know.”
Her chest tightened. “What do you mean?”
“Steve. Do you think you’re the only pretty girl who comes around here to take her clothes off for him?”
Yvonne desperately wanted to get away from McGarrity’s cloying and overbearing presence, but even more desperately she wanted to know if he was telling the truth. “I don’t believe you,” she said.
“Yvonne: Fridays and Saturdays. You’re just his weekend hippie. Tuesdays and Wednesdays it’s the lovely Denise. Let me see now, who’s Monday, Thursday and Sunday? Is it the same one all three days, or is it three different ones?”
He was looking at her with that mocking smile on his face again.
“Stop it!” she said. “I won’t believe you. I want to go home.” She tried to rise again and proved a little more successful this time. She was still dizzy, though, and soon fell back.
McGarrity stood up and started pacing up and down, muttering to himself. She didn’t know if it was T. S. Eliot or the book of Revelations. She could see the bulge at the front of his jeans, and she knew he was getting more excited every second. She didn’t trust him, knew he had that knife somewhere. Unless… Christ, he had probably had his way with Linda and killed her and got rid of the knife. That was why he didn’t have it. Yvonne’s mind was spinning. Why didn’t Steve and the others come home? What were they doing? Had he killed them all? Was that it? Were they all lying upstairs in their rooms in pools of blood with flies buzzing around? The ideas flashed and cracked electrically in her brain, bouncing around her mind like the thunderstorm in the painting.
Yvonne sensed that now was the time, while he was distracted. She went through it quickly in her head first, visualizing herself do it. She would have to be fast, and that would be the hardest part. She was still disoriented because of the hash he had drugged her with. She would have only one chance. Get to the door. Get outside fast. How did it open? Yale lock. In or out? In. So twist to the left, pull and run. There would be people out there, in the street, in the park. It was still light outside. She could make it. Twist to the left, pull and run.
When McGarrity was at the far end of the room, by the window, his back turned to her, Yvonne summoned up all her energy and made a dash for the door. She didn’t know if he was after her or not. She bounced off the walls down the hallway, reached the door, twisted the Yale and pulled. It opened. Daylight flooded her like warm honey. She stumbled a bit on the top step but ran down the garden path and out of the gate as fast as she could. She didn’t look round, didn’t even listen for his footsteps following her. She didn’t know where she was running. All she knew was that she had to run, run, run for her life.
Detective Superintendent Gervaise had called another progress meeting in the incident room, as the boardroom had now become known, for early Wednesday morning. The team lounged around the polished table sipping coffee from styrofoam cups and chatting about last night’s television, or Boro’s prospects for the weekend’s football. The corkboards had acquired more crime scene photographs, and the names and details of various people connected with the victim were scrawled across the whiteboard.
Annie Cabbot sat next to Winsome and DC Galway, on loan from Harrogate CID, and tried to digest what Banks had told her over an early breakfast in the Golden Grill. The presence in the area of two people connected with the Mad Hatters, the band on whom Nick Barber had been writing a major feature, seemed too much of a coincidence for her, too. She knew far less about the group and its history than Banks did, but even she could see there were a few skeletons in those closets worth shaking up a bit.
Detective Superintendent Gervaise clicked in on her shiny black heels, smoothed her navy pinstripe skirt and sat down at the head of the table, gracing everyone with a warm smile. A chorus of “Good morning, ma’am” rose up from the assembled officers.
She turned first to Stefan Nowak and asked if there was anything more from forensics.
“Not really,” said Stefan. “Naturally, there are numerous fibers and hairs remaining to be analyzed. The place was supposed to be thoroughly cleaned after each set of guests, but nobody’s that thorough. We’ve got a list of the last ten renters from the owner, so we’ll check against their samples first. It was a busy summer. Some of them live as far afield as Germany and Norway. It could take a long time.”
“The poker was wiped clean, and there are nothing but blurs around the door and conservatory entrance. Naturally, we’ve found almost as many fingerprints as we have other trace evidence, and it’ll all have to be sifted, compared to existing records. As I said, it will take time.”
“What about DNA?”
“Well, we did find traces of semen on the bedsheets, but the DNA matches that of the victim. We’re trying to separate out any traces of female secretion, but no luck so far. Apparently, he used condoms and flushed them down the toilet.” He glanced toward Annie for confirmation. She nodded.
“We know who this… companion… was, don’t we, DI Cabbot?”
“Yes,” said Annie. “Unless there was someone else, which I’d say he hardly had time for, Kelly Soames admits to sleeping with the victim on two occasions: Wednesday evening, which was her night off, and Friday afternoon, between the hours of two and four, when she rearranged a dental appointment so she could visit his cottage.”
“Resourceful girl,” Superintendent Gervaise reflected. “And Dr. Glendenning estimates time of death between six and eight on Friday?”
“He says he can’t be any more precise than that,” replied Stefan.
“All right,” said Superintendent Gervaise. “Let’s move on. Anything from the house-to-house?”
“Nothing positive, ma’am,” said Winsome. “It was a miserable night even before the blackout, and most people shut their curtains tight and stayed in.”
“Except the killer.”
“Yes, ma’am. In addition to the couple in the Cross Keys and the New Zealander in the youth hostel who thought she saw a light-colored car heading up the hill, away from Moorview Cottage, between seven-thirty and seven-forty-five, we have one sighting of a dark-colored four-by-four going up the same lane at about six-twenty, before the power cut, and a white van at about eight o’clock, while the electricity was off. According to our witnesses, though, neither of these stopped by the cottage.”
“Not very promising, is it?” said Gervaise.
“Well, one of them could have stopped further up the lane and walked back. There are plenty of passing places.”
“I suppose so,” Superintendent Gervaise conceded, but it was clear her heart wasn’t in it.
“Oh,” Winsome added, “someone says he saw a figure running across a field just after dark, before the lights went out.”
“No, ma’am. He was closing his curtains, and he thought he saw this dark figure. He assumed it was someone jogging and ignored it.”
“Fat, thin, tall, short, child, man, woman?”
“Sorry, ma’am. Just a dark figure.”
“Which direction was the figure running?” Banks asked.
Winsome turned to face him. “The shortcut from Fordham to Lynd-garth, sir, across the fields and by the river. It’s a popular jogging route.”
“Yes, but probably not after dark. Not in that sort of weather.”
“You’d be surprised, DCI Banks,” said Superintendent Gervaise. “Some people take their exercise very seriously indeed. Do you know how many calories there are in a pint of beer?”
Everyone laughed. Banks wasn’t convinced. Vic Greaves didn’t drive, so Adams had said, but it wasn’t very far from his cottage to Fordham, and that would have been the best route to take. It cut the journey almost in half. He made a note to get Winsome to talk to this witness again, or to do it himself.
“What about this Jack Tanner character?” Gervaise asked. “He sounded like a possible.”
“His alibi holds water,” said Templeton. “We’ve talked to six members of his darts team and every one of them swears he was in the King’s Head playing darts from about six o’clock until ten.”
“And I don’t suppose he was drinking Britvic Orange, either,” said Gervaise. “Maybe we ought to get Traffic to keep an eye on Mr. Tanner.”
“So do we have any promising lines of inquiry yet?” Gervaise asked.
“Chris Adams suggested that Nick Barber had a cocaine problem,” Banks said. “I’m not convinced, but I’ve put in a request for the Met drugs squad to look into it. But there’s something else.” He told her about Vic Greaves’s breakdown and the drowning death of Robin Merchant at Swainsview Lodge thirty-five years ago, and the feature Nick Barber had been writing for MOJO.
“It’s a bit far-fetched, isn’t?” said Gervaise, when he had finished. “I’ve always been a bit suspicious of events from so far in the past reaching forward into the present. Sounds like the stuff of television. I’m more inclined toward the most obvious solution – someone closer to hand, a jilted lover, cheated business partner, whatever. In this case, perhaps some disgruntled drug dealer. Besides, I take it this Merchant business was settled at the time?”
“After a fashion,” said Banks.
“What are you suggesting?”
“DS Templeton dug up the paperwork, and it looks to have been a rather cursory investigation,” Banks said. “After all, a major rock star and a peer of the realm were involved.”
Christ, Banks thought, do I have to spell it out for you? “Ma’am, I should imagine nobody wanted a scandal that might in any way touch the establishment and make it to the House,” he said. “There’d been enough of that sort of thing over the previous few years with Profumo, Kim Philby and the rest. As it was, the tabloids no doubt had a field day. Sex and drug orgies at Lord Jessop’s country manor. A deeper investigation might have unearthed things nobody wanted brought to the surface.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Banks, this is paranoid conspiracy rubbish,” said Superintendent Gervaise. “Honestly, I’d have thought better of you.”
“Well,” Banks went on, unfazed, “the victim’s personal belongings are all missing, including his laptop and mobile, and he was definitely silenced for good.”
“We do know that he had a laptop and mobile?”
“The girl, Kelly Soames, says she saw them when she visited him, ma’am,” said Annie.
Gervaise frowned as if she had a bad taste in her mouth and tapped her pen on the blank pad in front of her. “People have been killed or beaten up for a mobile phone or less. I’m still not convinced about this girl, DI Cabbot. She could be lying. Talk to her again, see if her story’s consistent.”
“Surely you don’t really believe that she might have killed him?” Annie asked.
“All I’m saying is that it’s possible.”
“But she was working in the pub at the time. There are plenty of witnesses to vouch for her.”
“Except when she was supposed to be going to the dentist’s on Friday afternoon, but was in actuality in bed with a man she’d only just met, a man who was found dead not long after. The girl can obviously lie with the best of them. All I’m saying is it’s suspicious, DI Cabbot. And the MO fits. Crime of passion. Maybe he slighted her, asked her to do something she found repugnant? Perhaps she found out he had another girlfriend. Maybe she left the pub for a few moments later on, in the dark. It wouldn’t have taken long.”
“That would involve some premeditation, not a crime of passion, ma’am,” said Annie, “and the odds are that she would have also got some blood on her.”
“Perhaps this sense of being wronged built up in her until she snapped when the lights went out, and seized her opportunity before they got organized with candles? I don’t know. All I’m saying is that it’s possible, and that it makes a good deal more sense than any conspiracy rooted deep in the past. Either way, push her a bit harder, DI Cabbot. Do I make myself clear? And, DS Nowak?”
“Have a word with the pathologist, Dr. Glendenning. See if you can push him a bit on time of death, find out if there’s any possibility that the victim could have been killed around four rather than between six and eight.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Stefan gave Annie a quick glance. They both knew Dr. Glendenning could not be pushed on anything.
“And let’s have the girl’s father in,” Superintendent Gervaise went on. “He disappeared for long enough around the time of the murder. If he found out that this Barber character was having casual sex with his daughter, he might have taken the law into his own hands.”
“Ma’am?” said Annie.
“What, DI Cabbot?”
“It’s just that I sort of promised. I mean, I indicated to the girl, to Kelly, that is, that we had no need to tell her father about what happened. Apparently he’s a bit of a disciplinarian, and it could go badly for her.”
“All the more reason to have a close look at him. It might already have gone badly for Nicholas Barber. Have you thought of that?”
“No, ma’am, you don’t understand. It’s her I’m worried about. Kelly. He’ll hit the roof.”
Superintendent Gervaise regarded Annie coldly. “I understand perfectly well what you’re saying, DI Cabbot. It serves her right for jumping into the bed with every man she sees, then, doesn’t it?”
“With all due respect, there’s no evidence to suggest that she does anything of the kind. She just happened to like Nick Barber.”
Superintendent Gervaise glared at Annie. “I’m not going to argue sexual mores, especially with you, DI Cabbot. Ask around. Find out. The girl must have had other partners. Find them. And find out if anyone’s ever paid her for it.”
“But, ma’am,” Annie protested. “That’s an insult. Kelly Soames isn’t a prostitute, and this case isn’t about her sex life.”
“It is if I say it is.”
“I talked to Calvin Soames,” Banks cut in.
Superintendent Gervaise looked over at him. “And?”
“In my opinion, he didn’t know what was going on between the victim and his daughter.”
“In your opinion?”
“Yes,” said Banks.
“He couldn’t have been hiding it?”
“He could, I suppose,” Banks admitted, “but if we’re assuming that he did it out of anger or righteous indignation, I think he would have been far more likely to be wearing his heart on his sleeve. He would have been angry when I was questioning his daughter about Barber, but he wasn’t.”
“Did you suggest they had slept together?”
“No,” said Banks. “I merely asked her about her dealings with Barber as a customer in the Cross Keys. While her father was watching us, I was watching him, and I believe that if he’d known there was more to it than that, it would have shown in his expression, his behavior, or in something he said. In my opinion, he’s not the sort of man accustomed to being sly.”
“And it didn’t?”
“Very well. I’d be more convinced, however, if I could witness his reaction to being told what his daughter had been up to.”
“That’s enough, DI Cabbot. I want you to pursue this line of inquiry until I’m satisfied there either is or isn’t something to it.”
“It’ll be too late for Kelly Soames then,” Annie muttered under her breath.
“DS Templeton?” said Banks.
Templeton sat up. “Sir?”
“Did you manage to locate Detective Sergeant Enderby?”
Templeton shifted uneasily in his chair. “Er… yes, sir, I did.” He looked at Superintendent Gervaise while he was speaking.
“What is this?” she asked.
“Well, ma’am,” Templeton said, “DCI Banks asked me to track down the detective who investigated the Robin Merchant drowning.”
“This is the drug addict who fell into the swimming pool thirty-five years ago?”
“Yes, ma’am, though I’m not certain that he was actually an addict. Not technically speaking.”
Superintendent Gervaise sighed theatrically, ran her hand over her layered blond hair, then looked at Banks. “Very well, DCI Banks. I see you’re hell-bent and determined on following this up, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll bear with you for the moment and assume there might be something in it. But DI Cabbot sticks with the Soameses. Okay?”
“Fine,” said Banks. He turned to Templeton. “Well, then, Kev. Where is he?”
Templeton glanced at Superintendent Gervaise again before answering. “Er… he’s in Whitby, sir.”
“That’s nice and handy, then, isn’t it?” Banks said. “I quite fancy a day at the seaside.”
The sun was out again when Banks began his descent from the North York Moors down into Whitby. It was a sight that always stirred him, even in the most gloomy weather, but today the sky was milky blue, and the sun shone on the ruined abbey high on the hill and sparkled like diamonds on the North Sea beyond the dark pincers of the harbor walls.
Retired Detective Inspector Keith Enderby lived in West Cliff, where the houses straggled off the A174 toward Sandsend. At least his fifties pebbledash semi had a sea view, even if it was only a few square feet between the houses opposite. Other than that, it was an unremarkable house on an unremarkable estate, Banks thought, as he pulled up behind the gray Mondeo parked at the front. “Mondeo Man.” A journalistically contrived representative of a certain kind of middle-class Briton. Was that what Enderby had become?
On the phone, Enderby had indicated that he was keen enough to talk about the Robin Merchant case, and in person he welcomed Banks into his home with a smile and handshake, introduced his wife, Rita, a small, quiet woman with a halo of pinkish-gray hair. Rita offered tea or coffee and Banks went for tea. It came with the requisite plate of chocolate digestives, arrowroots and Kit Kats, from which Banks was urged to help himself. He did. After a few pleasantries, at a nod from her husband, Rita made herself scarce, muttering something about errands in town, and drove off in the gray Mondeo. “Mondeo Woman,” then, Banks thought. Enderby said something about what a wonderful woman she was. Banks agreed. It seemed the polite thing to do.
“Nice place to retire to,” Banks said. “How long have you been here?”
“Going on for ten years now,” Enderby said. “I put in my twenty-five years and a few more besides. Finished up as a DI in South Yorkshire Police, Doncaster. But Rita always dreamed of living by the seaside and we used to come here for our holidays.”
“Well, the Costa del Sol would have suited me just fine, but we couldn’t afford it. Besides, Rita won’t leave the country. Foreigners begin at Calais and all that. She doesn’t even have a passport. Can you believe it?”
“You probably wouldn’t have liked it there,” Banks said. “Too many villains.”
“Whitby’s all right,” said Enderby, “and not short of a villain or two, either. I could do without all those bloody Goths, mind you.”
Banks knew that Whitby’s close association with Bram Stoker’s Dracula made the place a point of pilgrimage for Goths, but as far as he knew they were harmless enough kids, caused no trouble, and if they wanted to wear black all the time and drink a little of one another’s blood now and then, it was fine with him. The sun flashed on the square of sea through the houses opposite. “I appreciate your agreeing to talk to me,” Banks said.
“No problem. I just don’t know that I can add much you don’t already know. It was all in the case files.”
“If you’re anything like me,” Banks said, “you often have a feeling, call it a gut instinct or whatever, that you don’t think belongs in the files. Or a personal impression, something interesting but that seems irrelevant to the actual case itself.”
“It was a long time ago,” Enderby said. “I probably wouldn’t remember anything like that now.”
“You’d be surprised,” said Banks. “It was a high-profile case, I should imagine. Interesting times back then, too. Rubbing shoulders with rock stars and aristos and all that.”
“Oh, it was interesting, all right. Pink Floyd. The Who. I met them all. More tea?”
Banks held out his cup while Enderby poured. His gold wedding band was embedded deeply in his pudgy finger, surrounded by a tuft of hair. “You’d have been how old then?” Banks asked.
“In 1970? Just turned thirty that May.”
That would be about right, Banks guessed. Enderby looked to be in his mid-sixties now, with the comfortable paunch of a man who enjoys his inactivity and a head bereft of even a hint of a hair. He made up for the lack with a gray scrubbing-brush mustache. A delicate pink pattern of broken blood vessels mapped his cheeks and nose, but Banks put it down to blood pressure rather than drink. Enderby didn’t talk or act like a boozer, and his breath didn’t smell of Trebor Extra-Strong mints.
“So what was it like working on that case?” Banks asked. “What do you remember most about the Robin Merchant investigation?”
Enderby screwed up his eyes and gazed out of the window. “It must have been about ten o’clock by the time we got to the scene,” he said. “It was a beautiful morning, I do remember that. Clear. Warm. Birds singing. And there he was, floating in the pool.”
“What was your first impression?”
Enderby thought for a moment, then he gave a brief, barking laugh and put his cup down on the saucer. “Do you know what it was?” he said. “You’ll never believe this. He was on his back, naked, you know, and I remember thinking he’d got such a little prick for a famous rock star. You know, all the stuff we heard back then about groupies and orgies. The News of the World and all that. We assumed they were all hung like horses. It just seemed so incongruous, him floating there all shriveled, like a shrimp or a seahorse or something. It was the water, of course. No matter how warm the day was, the water was still cold.”
“That’ll do it every time. Were the others up and around when you arrived?”
“You must be joking. The uniforms were just rousing them. If it hadn’t been for Merchant’s drowning and our arrival, they’d probably have slept until well into the afternoon. They looked in pretty bad shape, too, some of them. Hungover and worse.”
“So who phoned it in?”
“The gardener, when he arrived for work.”
“Was he a suspect?”
“Nah, not really.”
“Many hangers-on and groupies around?”
“It’s hard to say. According to their statements, everyone was a close friend of the band. I mean, no one actually admitted to being a groupie or a hanger-on. Most of the guys in the band were just with their regular girlfriends.”
“What about Robin Merchant? Was he with anyone that night?”
“There was a girl asleep in his bed,” said Enderby.
“According to what I’ve read,” Banks said, “the thinking at the time was that Merchant had taken some Mandrax and was wandering around the pool naked when he fell in at the shallow end, hit his head on the bottom and drowned. Is that right?”
“Yes,” said Enderby. “That was what it looked like, and that’s what the pathologist confirmed. There was also a broken glass on the edge of the pool with Merchant’s fingerprints on it. He’d been drinking. Vodka.”
“Did you consider other possible scenarios?”
“That it wasn’t accidental.”
“You mean somebody pushed him?”
“It would be a natural assumption. You know what suspicious minds we coppers have.”
“True enough,” Enderby agreed. “I must admit, it crossed my mind, but I soon ruled it out.”
“Nobody had any motive.”
“Not according to what they told you.”
“We dug a bit deeper than that. Give us some credit. We might not have had the resources you’ve got today, but we did our best.”
“There was no friction within the band?”
“As far as I know there’s always friction in bands. Put a group of people together with egos that big and there has to be. Stands to reason.”
Banks laughed. Then he thought of Brian and wondered if the Blue Lamps were due for a split before too long. Brian hadn’t said anything, but Banks sensed something different about him, a certain lack of excitement and commitment, perhaps, and his turning up out of the blue like that was unusual. He seemed weary. And what about Emilia? Was she the Yoko Ono figure? Still, if Brian wanted to talk, he would get around to it in his own time; there was no use in pushing him. He’d always been that way. “Any-thing in particular?” he asked Enderby.
“Let’s see. They were all worried about Vic Greaves’s drug intake, for a start. His performances were getting more and more erratic, and his behavior was unreliable. Apparently, he’d missed a concert engagement not that long back, and the rest of them were still a bit pissed off at him for leaving them in the lurch.”
“Did Greaves have an alibi?”
Enderby scratched the side of his nose. “As a matter of fact, he did,” he said. “Two, actually.”
Enderby grinned. “Greaves and Merchant were the only two band members who didn’t have regular girlfriends. That night, Greaves happened to be in bed with two groupies.”
“Lucky devil,” said Banks. “I’d never have thought he had it in him.” He remembered the bald, bloated figure with the hollow eyes he had seen in Lyndgarth.
“According to them, he didn’t,” said Enderby. “Apparently he was too far gone to get it up. Bloody waste, if you ask me. They were lovely-looking girls.” He smiled at the memory. “Not wearing very much, either, when I interviewed them. That’s one of the little things you don’t forget in a hurry. Not so little, either, if you catch my drift.”
“Could Greaves not have sneaked away for a while during the night? They must have both slept, or passed out, at some time.”
“Look, when you get right down to it, any one of them could have done it. At least anyone who could still walk in a straight line. We didn’t really set great store by the alibis, as such. For a start, hardly any of them could remember much about the previous evening, or even what time they finally went to bed. They might have been wandering about all night, for all I know, and not even noticed Merchant in the swimming pool.”
“So what made you rule out murder so quickly?”
“I told you. No real motive. No evidence that he’d been pushed.”
“But Merchant could have got into an argument with someone, gone a bit over the top.”
“Oh, he could have, yes. But no one says he did, so what are we supposed to do, jump to conclusions and pick someone? Anyone?”
“What about an intruder?”
“Couldn’t be ruled out, either. It was easy enough to get into the grounds. But again, there was no evidence of an intruder, and nothing was stolen. Besides, Merchant’s injuries were consistent with falling into a swimming pool and drowning, which was what happened. Look, if you ask me, at worst it could have been a bit of stoned and drunken larking around that went wrong. I’m not saying that’s what happened, because there’s no proof, but if they were all stoned or pissed, which they were, and they started running around the pool playing tag or what have you, and someone tagged Merchant just a bit too hard and he ended up in the pool dead… Well, what would you do?”
“First off,” said Banks, “I’d try to get him out of there. There was no way I could be sure he was dead. Then I’d probably try artificial respiration, or the kiss of life or whatever it was back then, while someone called an ambulance.”
“Aye,” said Enderby. “And if you’d had as much drugs in your system as they had, you’d probably have just stood there for half an hour twiddling your thumbs before doing anything, and then the first thing you’d have done is get rid of your stash.”
“Did the drugs squad search the premises? There was no mention in the file.”
“Between you and me, we searched the place. Oh, we found a bit of marijuana, a few tabs of LSD, some mandies. But nothing hard.”
“We decided, in the light of everything else – like a body to deal with – that we wouldn’t bring charges. We just disposed of the stuff. I mean, what were we to do, arrest them all for possession?”
Disposed of? Banks doubted that. Consumed or sold, more likely. But there was no point in opening that can of worms. “Did you get any sense that they’d cooked up a story between them?”
“No. As I said, half of them couldn’t even remember the party. It was all pretty fragmented and inconclusive.”
“Lord Jessop was present, right?”
“Right. Probably about the most coherent of the lot. That was before he got into the hard stuff.”
“And the most influential?”
“I can see where you’re going with this. Of course nobody wanted a scandal. It was bad enough as it was. Maybe that’s why we didn’t bring drugs charges. There’d been enough of that over the past two or three years with the Stones bust, and it was all beginning to seem pretty ridiculous. Especially after The Times ran that editorial about breaking a butterfly on a wheel. Within hours we had them all banging at the door and jumping over the walls. The News of the World, People, Daily Mirror, you name them. So even if someone else had been involved in a bit of horseplay, the thinking went, then it had still been an accident, and there was no point in inviting scandal. As we couldn’t prove that anyone else had been involved and no one was admitting to it, that was the end of it. Tea’s done. Fancy another pot?”
“No, thank you,” said Banks. “If there’s nothing more you can tell me, I’d better be off.”
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
“It wasn’t disappointing.”
“Look, you never did really tell me what it was all about. Remember, we’re in the same job, or used to be.”
Banks was so used to not giving out any more information than he needed to that he sometimes forgot to say entirely why he was asking about something. “We found a writer by the name of Nick Barber dead. You might have read about it.”
“Sounds vaguely familiar,” said Enderby. “I try to keep up.”
“What you won’t have read about is that he was working on a story about the Mad Hatters, on Vic Greaves and the band’s early days in particular.”
“Interesting,” said Enderby. “But I still don’t see why you’re asking about Robin Merchant’s death.”
“It was just something Barber said to a girlfriend,” Banks said. “He mentioned something about a juicy story with a murder.”
“Now you’ve got me interested,” said Enderby. “A murder, you say?”
“That’s right. I suppose it was probably just journalistic license, trying to impress his girlfriend.”
“Not necessarily,” said Enderby.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure that Robin Merchant’s death was accidental, but that wasn’t the first time I was out at Swainsview Lodge in connection with a suspicious death.”
“Really?” said Banks. “Do tell.”
Enderby stood up. “Look, the sun’s well over the yardarm. How about we head down to my local and I’ll tell you over a pint?”
“I’m driving,” said Banks.
“That’s all right,” said Enderby. “You can buy me one and watch me drink it.”
“What took you out there?” Banks asked.
“A murder,” said Enderby, eyes glittering. “A real one that time.”
Saturday, 20th September, 1969
“She won’t come out of her room,” Janet Chadwick said as she sat with her husband eating tea on Saturday evening, football results on the telly. Chadwick was filling in his pools coupon, but it was soon clear that the £230,000 jackpot was going to elude him this week, just as it had every other week.
Chadwick ate some toad-in-hole after giving it a liberal dip in the gravy. “What’s wrong with her now?”
“She won’t say. She came dashing in late this afternoon and went straight up to her room. I called to her, knocked on her door, but she wouldn’t answer.”
“Did you go in?”
“No. She has to be allowed some privacy, Stan. She’s sixteen.”